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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!)

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

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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.

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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)

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)

Jimmy Webb with Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. and other stars coming to Carnegie Hall!

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A Celebration of the Music of Jimmy Webb will be taking place Wednesday May 3rd, 8pm at Carnegie Hall, New York City. The show will feature Jimmy plus Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.  The couple made history as original lead singers of The 5th Dimension, garnering 4 Grammy awards for the quintet’s hit version of Webb’s premiere songwriting mega-success, “Up-Up  and Away.”  Also appearing on the star-studded bill at Carnegie Hall:   Johnny Rivers, Art Garfunkel, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Graham Nash, Amy Grant, Judy Collins, Hanson, Dwight Yoakum, Toby Keith, Ashley Campbell (Glen Campbell’s daughter) and more!

Tickets range from $48 – $160; VIP packages start at $325

Selection page for regular tickets at: http://bit.ly/2muhbOl.

For VIP packages, go here: musicof.org

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All proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Foundation

Celebrating a Legacy

Honoring Black History Month ’17–

a Forever 5th Dimension Exclusive Report by Robert-Allan Arno

Museum Display—  Here’s a lively backstage photo of The Original 5th Dimension: Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis, Jr., LaMonte McLemore, Florence LaRue & Ron “Sweets” Townson circa ’70.  It’s from photographer Arnie Lee‘s famed shoot of the quintet (onstage & off, at Eastern Michigan University) and we’re so proud to note that select pics from this session–including this one!–are currently on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.

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florence-fringe-now

Florence’s Milestone, A Gathering of Forever Friends—  Our delightful diva, Ms. Florence LaRue just toasted a milestone birthday. She shares with us:

“WOW!! I haven’t the words or the time to individually thank the many people all over the world who sent wonderful birthday wishes to me! I thank God for all of you taking the time to do so; and I thank Him for allowing me to live 75 healthy years!~~~Yes 75!! I understand that some had my years much younger, but I am grateful for the years of learning, experiencing and growing closer to God! My heart is so full~~~THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!! I feel SO loved! 🙂 and I send love to you!”  –Florence

On Feb. 18, Florence had a sumptuous house party attended by friends, family, fans and musical colleagues, including Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. who sang, individually at the intimate gathering.  Also attending were current members of The 5th Dimension:  Patrice Morris, Leonard Tucker and Floyd Smith. Here’s a lovely photo commemorating the event.

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Current & founding members of The 5th Dimension join Ms. LaRue at her birthday soiree.  L to R: Floyd Smith, Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis, Jr., Florence, Leonard Tucker & Patrice Morris

book cover

Memoir Available on Amazon*

LaMonte Celebrates–  And throughout this meaningful month, founder of The 5th Dimension, LaMonte McLemore is making select media appearances discussing the harmonious, unifying legacy of The 5th Dimension, his hit memoir “From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension,” and featuring his exciting new song, a call for global peace: CEASE FIRE.

J100

Available at CD Baby:

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lamontemclemore

“Mac” has appeared with Jimmy Howes on WGHT, Freddie Bell and Chantel on “The People’s Station”–KMOJ, Teddy Bear on LOTL Radio and just taped a podcast for world-wide distribution with the engaging Chris Yandeck at “CY Interview”:

You can listen to LaMonte’s heartfelt, in-depth chat with Chris at this easy link:  http://www.cyinterview.com/2017/02/up-up-and-away-the-5th-dimension-founder-lamonte-mclemore-talks-his-life-and-his-book-from-hobo-flats-to-the-5th-dimension-a-life-fulfilled-in-baseball-photography-and-music/

Essential Links:

Visit LaMonte McLemore on: Facebook, Twitter and Linked-in

*Purchase Mac’s 5-star hit memoir, FROM HOBO FLATS TO THE 5TH DIMENSION at Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Hobo-Flats-5th-Dimension-Photography/dp/0692307362/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487528579&sr=8-1&keywords=hobo+flats+to+5th+dimension

Visit Florence LaRue & The 5th Dimension for concert schedule & more at:  http://5thdimensionlive.com

Visit Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. for appearances & more at: Facebook Official  or  http://www.mccoodavis.com

Photo Credits: Arnie Lee, all rights reserved; the Thalians; Patrice Morris…

mac and mccoo

Bonus shot! Marilyn & Mac, circa ’70, by Arnie Lee

 

Forever 5th Dimension by Robert-Allan Arno, copyright ’17, a production of The Soul of The Voice, Ltd., intellectual property, all rights reserved

Marilyn & Billy: Valentines in Vegas

Feb 11 & 12, 2017 marked the 3rd consecutive yearly Valentine’s Day weekend concert appearance of “First Couple of Pop n’ Soul,” Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. at the Orleans Casino Hotel in Las Vegas. Their “Up, Up & Away” extravaganza with superb musicians under the direction of Darrell Alston, including singers Cydney Davis, Andre Carthen and Cynthia Bass was not only sold-out but an enthralling standing O success.

orleans

McCoo & Davis with talented musicians & singers bring “Up, Up & Away” extravaganza to Vegas, Valentine’s weekend

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LaMonte McLemore with fan, Jonathan Weitz

Attending was founder and original member of The 5th Dimension, LaMonte McLemore who declared, “Marilyn and Billy never rest on their laurels…their show was fabulous!” And special fans were there in full force like Andy Gard, Jonathan Weitz, and the ever observant DeniseRose Torres who brings us this exciting collage of onstage photos to behold!  Enjoy!  –Robert-Allan Arno

(copyright ’17, Forever 5th Dimension, a production of The Soul of The Voice, Ltd., intellectual property, all rights reserved)

Marilyn & Billy, all smiles as they take in a standing O & take a graceful bow…

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Courtesy Jonathan Weitz

Visit McCoo & Davis Official on Facebook or at:  http://www.mccoodavis.com

Happy Birthday to the Delightful Florence LaRue

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Dateline Feb 4–I just spoke with the indefatigable, sunshiny, ever-inspiring,  not to mention always glamorous Florence LaRue…up in Niagara Falls as she was not only anticipating a birthday but a sold-out series of concerts with The 5th Dimension.

Our FOREVER 5th DIMENSION 2017 birthday tribute to our “Delightful Diva” is fresh–chock full o’ photos, a “historic homage” and special commentary from the fans as we explore Florence’s best-loved vocal solos. 

Simply tune in at the link below & join us for the “Florence Celebration!”:

–Robert-Allan Arno

https://forever5thdimension.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/the-delightful-divas-birthday/

“Sweet Memories of Sweets”

rare-sweetRonald “Sweets” Townson: Remembering the gentleman who brought The Original 5th Dimension his robust dignity and classical bent…and so much more. Now begins our “sweet” annual tradition as we honor his legacy on his birth date of January 29. Our “refreshed” essay for ’17, “Sweet Memories of Sweets” features quotes & stories from the stars and family who knew him best: Marilyn & Billy, Florence, LaMonte and Ron’s son Kyle.  And we spotlight the Top 5 (and more!) Ron “vocal solos.”  And the special fans weigh in with thoughtful feedback.  Lotsa’ photos, too!

Please join us now for “Sweet Memories of Sweets” at this “Forever 5th Dimension” link:

https://forever5thdimension.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/celebrating-ron-townsons-birthday/

Robert-Allan Arno,

Biographer–The Original 5th Dimension