Monthly Archives: May 2017

A Heartfelt Tribute: Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. Honored by Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters

A Forever 5th Dimension Exclusive by Robert-Allan Arno
PIONEER DAIS

On the dias for McCoo & Davis, a gathering of friends & colleagues L to r bttm:  Lou Gossett., Florence LaRue, Marilyn & Billy, Joan van Ark; l to r top: President of PPB Alan Perris, Kathy Ireland, Harry Elston, Pat Boone, Wink Martindale (Photo by Roxanne Schorbach)

May 19, 2017–The prestigious Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters celebrity luncheon honored Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. for their achievements in radio & TV broadcasting with a heartfelt and fun-loving Friday afternoon tribute.  As reported to Forever 5th Dimension from key attendees, the duo of the hour– 7-time Grammy-winning musical legends McCoo & Davis (“Up-Up and Away,” “You Don’t Have to be a Star (To be in My Show),” “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” “One Less Bell to Answer”), were simply bowled over by such an affectionate array of reflections from those luminaries who appeared on the dais.Pioneer Placard

Pac JoanActress Joan van Ark recited a compelling compendium of lyrics from various hit songs by The 5th Dimension while Florence LaRue delivered an emotional homage to her fellow Original 5th Dimension trailblazers and friends.

pac FlorenceThe graceful LaRue cited Billy’s voice as one which still brings a tear to her eye.  Actor Lou Gossett, Jr. and Harry Elston of The Friends of Distinction were downright hysterical (Harry’s nickname for Billy is “Wilbur”…with Billy trading quick quips with Mr. Elston!)

Pac HARRY

Harry Elston of The Friends of Distinction brought humor to the event.

pacific ireland done

Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. are joined by Kathy Ireland

The lovely Kathy Ireland as well as the perennially wholesome Pat Boone and TV host Wink Martindale brought faith-based thoughts to the proceedings, acknowledging Marilyn & Billy’s own hallmark of goodness, integrity and commitment to charitable causes.

PIONEER COLLAGE TWO

Saluting the first African American married couple to have their own network TV variety series, the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters put together a masterfully entertaining video montage of McCoo & Davis’s numerous artistic achievements.

Pac Gilmore

Marilyn & Billy receiving the Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award from PPB President Alan Perris

Tony Orlando and LaMonte McLemore sent video and written testimonials to their lifelong friends and colleagues. Orlando (with Dawn counterparts) opened for The Original 5th Dimension, “back in the day” at Westbury Music Fair and credits that “gig” as getting his trio discovered for their iconic TV series. McLemore literally brought former beauty contest winner Marilyn and St. Louis buddy Billy together in LA, upon forming The 5th Dimension in ’65.  McCoo & Davis will celebrate 48 years of marriage this coming July.

Pacific Steve Retouch

Having good fun at the McCoo/Davis Tribute L to r bttm: Florence LaRue, Marilyn & Billy, Pat Boone, Wink Martindale; l to r top: President Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters, Alan Perris, Harry Elston, Joan van Ark, Kathy Ireland

Visit Marilyn & Billy at their Official Facebook page,

on Twitter @mccoodavis

See their website for latest concert schedule; McCoo & Davis tour with their acclaimed Broadway-like autobiographical musical, “Up-Up & Away–a musical fable”:  www.mccoodavis.com

Special Thanks to Steve Rosenblum, Sterling/Winters,

and the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters (http://www.ppbwebsite.org)

From-the-dais photos courtesy of the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters FB page

(Forever 5th Dimension by Robert-Allan Arno, a production of The Soul of The Voice, Ltd., copyright 2008-17, Intellectual Property, All Rights Reserved)

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Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. Soar at Jimmy Webb Celebration — Carnegie Hall, May 3, 2017

A Forever 5th Dimension Exclusive by Robert-Allan Arno

CARNEGIE COLLAGE


It seems like New York City, itself and everyone who’s excitedly peeking in from all over today’s social media is making “the world a nicer place” while still abuzz about this past Wednesday’s Jimmy Webb Celebration!JimmyWebbHeader_3 The star-studded extravaganza at the “venue of venues,” Carnegie Hall, heralded the tunesmith extraordinaire, composer of such classics as “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “MacArthur Park” and of course, the multi-Grammy winning “Up-Up and Away.”  At Forever 5th Dimension, we bring you exclusive coverage with that one-on-one, “MarBill touch”…
Our very own Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. immediately took the show to exemplary heights with their quintessential rendering of The Original 5th Dimension’s signature about that “beautiful balloon,” one that launched Jimmy’s career circa ’67, too. Defying the anthem’s 50th anniversary, the original lead singers of The 5th Dimension wowed the crowd exhibiting voices that were as pristine as ever while looking eternally glamorous and youthful. Marilyn’s stratospheric note at the end of “Up-Up and Away” would be metaphoric for the night’s entire uplifting affair.CARNEGIE UP UP

See the dynamic duo’s Carnegie Hall performance of “Up-Up and Away” here:  https://youtu.be/LH5Yhp2mYUM

Then Billy stepped forward to deliver a languidly poignant version of “Magic Garden” mainstay “The Worst That Could Happen” (you know, the original which inspired the Johnny Maestro/Brooklyn Bridge hit). magic gardenYou want some “Forever 5th” tid-bits?  Let’s shoot to the after-party at the trendy City Winery where Jimmy sighed about every original 5th-D member’s all-time fave album as we chatted: “Ah, ‘The Magic Garden,’ there was nothing like it…it was our very own ‘Sgt. Pepper.'” Billy confided to me about his Carnegie Hall rendition of TWTCH which received a well-deserved standing O, “I wanted to do the song for the fans and especially for Jimmy a bit more slowed down, to draw attention to his words…as it should be.”  Marilyn shared while we exchanged vocal preservation tips, “Billy avoided sweets the week before, so his delivery would be extra-crystal clear.”  Then we all bit into the celebratory luscious brownie triangles at the post-show soiree!

Savor Billy’s Carnegie Hall performance of “The Worst That Could Happen” here:  https://youtu.be/unsy1CxtWFQ

BIG GROUPBack to the stage, performances by other legends including Judy Collins, Art Garfunkel, BJ Thomas, Johnny Rivers, Dwight Yoakam, Catherine Zeta-Jones, surprise guest Michael Feinstein, Amy Grant and Graham Nash (both in duet with Jimmy), Broadway’s Liz Callaway, stunning newcomer currently touring with Stevie Wonder–Shelea and more, displayed the versatility of genre inherent in Webb’s unparalleled songwriting style.  The tribute, hosted by Jimmy’s old friend, actor Michael Douglas–with proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Foundation with regard to Jimmy’s friend and colleague Glen Campbell–also helped to usher in Webb’s new memoir, “The Cake and the Rain.” Ashley Campbell, Glen’s daughter made a touchingly memorable musical appearance while Toby Keith made a mighty one with his interpretation of “MacArthur Park.” We’re pleased to bring you the show’s complete song list, here:

LIZ CALLAWAY

The entire cast assembled “under the twilight canopy” for the big finale, with Marilyn & Billy leading their star compatriots to a soaring finish…

James Gavin

Finale in a “Beautiful Balloon” (photo courtesy James Gavin)

I mentioned to Marilyn how fitting it was that she and Billy virtually got to bookend the show with “Up-Up and Away.” The graceful lady thoughtfully reflected, “The night was so special for us, and so well-executed for Jimmy.”  I also noted that although they’ve toured all over the world since then, the twosome had last appeared at Carnegie Hall with The 5th Dimension in ’72…in fact, “If I Could Reach You” was the current hit Marilyn soloed with that night. Marilyn and Billy took it in like two kids listening to a favorite bedtime story–these are legacy artists who are non-jaded and define gracious.  I recalled, “I remember you guys were wearing those formal-looking black one-piece outfits with the silver embellishments.” Billy exclaimed, “That is correct! I remember those jumpsuits so well!”

JUMPSUIT

Here they are, The 5th Dimension in those “back in the day” black & silver jumpsuits!

I added, “When I co-wrote LaMonte’s (McLemore) memoir, he cited that particular sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall as the one the State Department took notice of. It essentially prompted them to make The 5th Dimension musical ambassadors, organizing your historic tour behind the ‘Iron Curtain.'” Marilyn responded with an endearingly wholesome, “Oh my gosh!” Billy capped things off with a heartfelt observation of the current night’s proceedings: “Robert, please tell the fans…to have all of us come together for Jimmy Webb, people like Johnny Rivers who really helped start it for us–The 5th Dimension as well as Jimmy…where we haven’t been in the same place at the same time for years, was truly astounding!”

CARNEGIE THREESOME DONE

L to R: Billy Davis, Jr., Robert-Allan Arno, Marilyn McCoo…embarking on a cozy chat at the Carnegie Hall after-party, City Winery, NYC

 Very special thanks to Steve Rosenblum, Sterling/Winters,

and Marilyn & Billy

Touring in their acclaimed autobiographical show, “Up-Up and Away–A Musical Fable,” for concert dates & more visit:  Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. (Official) on Facebook, their website: http://www.mccoodavis.com or Twitter @mccoodavis

JIMMY MARBILL

Courtesy Jimmy Webb Facebook page

(Forever 5th Dimension by Robert-Allan Arno, a production of The Soul of The Voice, Ltd. copyright 2008-2017, intellectual property, all rights reserved. Photo credits:  Arno 5th McCoo/Davis Legacy Collection, Jimmy Webb Facebook page, James Gavin)