Tag Archives: Billy Davis Jr.

“Marilyn & Billy’s Living Room”

LIVING ROOM BIRTHDAY TWO

Curated by Robert-Allan Arno

September 30, 2017–I’m so proud to present a very special edition of FOREVER 5th DIMENSION. Not only is it the birthday of our revered and stellar songbird, Ms. Marilyn McCoo, but today, Marilyn and her legendary hubby of 48 years, our Gentleman of Soul, Mr. Billy Davis, Jr. graciously welcome you into their “living room!”  Over the past 9 years, each time our globally-acclaimed FOREVER 5th DIMENSION blog has had the pleasure of interviewing the 7-time Grammy award-winning “First Couple of Pop & Soul,” hands-down your consistent feedback has been: “It’s like I’m in their living room, being part of the conversation with Marilyn and Billy!” Indeed, in my warm chats with the endearing duo, we’ve laughed and cried, talked the music of a lifetime including ‘going deep’ with rarities, we’ve even done mini-Master Classes in singing interpretation! And we’ve never excluded keeping it faith-based while weaving in all the burning questions fans have wanted to hear! Now it’s your chance to ask those questions directly to “MarBill,” here within based on our polling you, the special fans over the past month.
RARE palm beachSo put on some hazelnut-flavored coffee, put up a pot of spicy herbal tea, grab some delectable cookies, too…and let’s get cozy with our very gracious, favorite couple, who’ll make YOU “a star in their show”…
Iconic Recordings, Hits to Fan Favorites…
Douglas C. Charles poses, “One of the things I really loved about The Original 5th Dimension was their unique harmonies. There are parts in songs that to this day give me chills like the ‘let the airwaves flow” extended segment in ‘Moonlight Mile’ (from EARTHBOUND). What I’m wondering is if there were special times for you guys, where you heard this beautiful 5th sound in-studio and really “knew” that it was special…perhaps gave you chills, too.”
MARILYN:  Yes, I heard those special harmonies and knew they were great.  I loved singing them in rehearsal, especially “Moonlight Mile,” and knew the result would be incredible.  Jimmy always came up with sounds I felt defined The 5th Dimension.  Other moments like that:  a) the prologue and epilogue of EARTHBOUND; b) “Orange Air;”  c) “Sky & Sea;”  d) “Dimension 5ive;”  e) “Black Patch;”  f)  “One Less Bell to Answer”–the background vocals.
BILLY:   I’ve always enjoyed Jimmy’s arrangements of his songs.  I didn’t think he could top the MAGIC GARDEN album until EARTHBOUND!  Because of circumstances we were dealing with which ultimately led to me and Marilyn leaving The 5th Dimension, I wasn’t able to really hear the magic of the group’s sounds and Jimmy’s brilliant arrangements.  In fact, we didn’t seriously listen to the project until years later, when our personal feelings and emotions had long since faded.EARTHBOUND ALBUM
Doug continues, “For Marilyn: I have always thought that ‘When Did I Lose Your Love’ (also from EARTHBOUND) was one of your most heart-touching performances. There is also that amazing acoustic guitar (by Larry Coryell) blending throughout. Could you share any thoughts on the process of that song?”
MARILYN:  When I recorded that song, my goal was to make it like a reflective moment, perhaps looking out of the window on a rainy day wondering how things fell apart.  Larry Coryell’s beautiful guitar really enhanced the emotion.
Our friend Andy Gard inquires, “Since the release of the Real Gone Music singles collection by The 5th Dimension last year, I’ve been thinking about ‘Diggin’ for a Livin,’ (the rare flip-side to ‘Flashback’). My question for Billy is do any other members of the group sing on that, or is it purely your solo? I certainly don’t hear the ladies or Ron, but there’s a section where there’s a harmony vocal and I’m wondering if that’s your voice doubled or possibly LaMonte’s?”
BILLY:  Andy, that’s me singing harmony with myself, and it’s one of very few of the group’s recordings that contained no background vocals.BILLY BILLY

Wilse Chappel expresses,  “First, I’d like to mention I love the work you two are doing with your ‘Soldiers for the Second Coming’ ministry. Marilyn and Billy, can you think back on the times you recorded the vocals for ‘One Less Bell To Answer’ and ‘You Don’t Have To Be A Star.’ Could you share what those moments were like in the studio? Those are two of my favorites from the earlier days.”

MARILYN:  “Star” was a fun song to sing.  The lyrics were catchy, and Don Davis had produced a really hip, danceable track.  He always believed it would be a hit.  “One Less Bell” was the quintessential torch song by Bacharach and David, a dream for someone like me who loves torch songs.  I never thought it would a single or a hit.mar-six-8
BILLY:  I had really wanted the group to have a danceable hit record.  The closest thing to it was “Stoned Soul Picnic.”  With “Star,” me and Marilyn were recording a song that just might be that hit!
Jim Handakas asks Billy, “Did you try to get ‘The Worst That Could Happen’ released as a single? I preferred your solo over the version that ultimately was a hit (by The Brooklyn Bridge).”
BILLY:  We didn’t have any say-so about the singles chosen at that time.  The powers that be at Liberty/Soul City Records said they didn’t want a single released that focused on a soloist; they wanted the group sound which was selling at that time.
Renee Armstead has a more general question about your recordings.  She asks, “What are some of your favorites with The 5th Dimension, and then as a duet.”

BOTH:  In addition to the obvious “Up-Up and Away,” “Aquarius/Sunshine,” and “One Less Bell,” here are some of our additional favorites:  Group:  1) “Requiem: 820 Latham;” 2) “Sky & Sea;” 3) “Leave A Little Room;” 4) “Black Patch;” 5) “Stoned Soul Picnic;” 6) “Dimension 5ive;” 7) “Love’s, Lines, Angles & Rhymes;”  8) “Moonlight Mile.”  Duets:  1) “Star;” 2) “Easy Way Out;” 3) “My Love For You Will Always Be the Same;” 4) “My Reason To Be is You;” 5) “The Two Of Us.”

Deniserose Torres shares, “I have found that over the years, I hear many of your songs differently than when first encountered–whether it’s the vocal/musical arrangements or in the meaning of the words. Are there any songs you sing that have changed in feeling or meaning for you?”
BOTH:  Some of our songs that we listen to today, we hear with different ears:  1) “The Declaration” Medley (featuring “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “People Gotta Be Free”) has changed as the country has changed, giving us a more updated reference, we’re sorry to say;  2) “Those Were the Days”—as we have advanced in years, some of those lyrics are harder to hear or sing now without getting a lump in our throats;  3) “Ashes to Ashes”—Lambert & Potter’s lyrics had a greater depth than what we connected to in our earlier years.
About Laura…

Both Ed Clay Grant and Gregory Hall ask, “What was your relationship like with Laura Nyro?”  Gregory inquires, “Did you ever meet her?” Ed explains, “She was a favorite lost too soon. It seems utterly amazing that The 5th Dimension had hits with five of her songs — that must be a record! ” (Editor’s Note:  “Wedding Bell Blues,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Sweet Blindness,” “Blown’ Away,” “Save the Country.”)


BILLY:  We “formally” met Laura when we were working on her songs, but our paths crossed earlier when the group was working in San Francisco, one of our first major gigs.  She was staying in an apartment hotel in a room below LaMonte, Ron & me.  She was out on her balcony one day singing with her background singers.  She and I said “hello” and chit-chatted for a few minutes, having no idea of our future that lay ahead or that her music and our group sound would work so well together.
Dimension 5ive: This n’ That!
Here’s a fun one from Jungle Room on Twitter:  “Did you ever meet Elvis?”

BOTH:  We met Elvis in Lake Tahoe at the Sahara Tahoe.  We were closing that night and he was opening the next night.  They had a tunnel we’d use going back and forth to the backstage.  He had just finished rehearsing; we were going backstage to get ready for our show.  He was very nice and said he was coming to the show.  We were thrilled!!  The backstage manager informed us when he arrived at the show.  Elvis’ rep asked what was our second to the last song in the show so they could slip out right afterward.  They also asked us to please not introduce him.  We said, “Don’t worry. We don’t want to cause a riot and ruin the rest of our show!”

Our friend  Loretta Sorensen has a couple of thoughtful inquires of each of you: “If you were not in the entertainment business, what other career would you see yourself in?  She continues with: “What was your favorite song growing up?”
BILLY:  Although I loved baseball and think I could’ve played professionally, all I ever really wanted to do was sing.  One of my favorite songs growing up was “Mona Lisa” by Nat King Cole.
MARILYN:  I might have gone into law.  I had taken a business law class in college and really enjoyed it.  But music was always my first desire.  One of my favorite songs growing up was, of course, a torch song, “The Man That Got Away.”
Marilyn and Billy, here’s a pair of questions from loyal fans who happen to be a husband and wife too, Mariette and Alain Baptiste.  I particularly love the “yin and yang” of their inquiry: “My wife Mariette wonders if Miss McCoo uses one specific designer as (she says:) ‘Marilyn always looks so elegant and fresh.’ My question is for Mr. Davis: I can bet you were a great singer even as a child, like Marilyn, but when did the lyrics become so important to you? My guess is during the MAGIC GARDEN sessions! We think both Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. put huge meaning behind their renderings!”
BILLY:  When I began listening to music, I always realized there was a story being told with the melody.  I understood that I needed to interpret that story for the listeners so they could feel it like I felt it.

MARILYN:  I know lines that work for my body (and those that don’t!).  I pick my clothes with that in mind.  I don’t always buy the same designer since their tastes change and don’t always work for me.  But for my performance clothes, I like Linda Stokes.  She understands a woman’s body, she makes her clothes fit for me in the most flattering way, and she’ll change a look if needed.

Robert:  Many of the radio jingles and TV commercials The Original 5th Dimension participated in, “back in the day” (e.g. Chevrolet, Coca Cola) are as well-remembered as your hit tunes. Then there’s the adorable ’70’s classic with The 5th dancing on the Jello box singing: “…It never gets too heavy, It’s gossamer, it never holds you down.”JELLO  In this regard, Duane Edwards submitted a reflection: “Does a second commercial for Jello exist? I either dreamed it or saw it once on afternoon TV during the soaps. It went something like this: hands are seen carrying a tray with bowls of Jello into a recording studio to a receptive group. The members of The 5th Dimension are then seen enjoying the treat while listening to their Jello jingle!”

BOTH:  We don’t remember a second version of the Jello commercial. Too bad Ronald’s (Townson) no longer with us; he was the unofficial group historian.
John Holt has a question about artwork on one of Johnny River’s record covers:  “Is it The 5th Dimension in a hot air balloon on one of Johnny’s albums?
BOTH:  Johnny Rivers certainly had access to the hot air balloon artwork of the UP-UP AND AWAY album cover since he owned the Soul City label.  But we don’t remember one of our photos being used on an album of his.
Master Class a la MarBill

Dave Maze expresses, “I saw you in Atlantic City last summer and spoke to your Music Director, Darrell Alston who told me you still sing everything in the original keys. What do you do to keep so youthful overall, and your voices so strong in order to be able to do that? Then when I had the pleasure of meeting you both, Billy said upon learning I was a singer, ‘Never stop singing!’ What other vocal tricks do you guys have up your sleeve?”

BOTH:  We have to keep vocalizing, doing exercises we learned from vocal teachers that really work for our voices, and keep challenging ourselves.  We also try to eat healthy and maintain some form of exercise.

And here’s an artistic “love letter” to Marilyn, so appropriate as “Living Room” debuts on her birthday. Jim Handakas is back to share, “Your voice has always spoken directly to my soul. The phrasing, the pitch, how the richness of your belt voice effortlessly floats up to your pristine soprano…all of it comes together in your remarkable performances. I have been in the audience to hear you sing your signature hits many times and you always deliver. How much has training figured into your longevity? Your range is still amazing!”

MARILYN:  First, thank you for that lovely description of how you feel my voice operates!  I have my father to thank for making sure I studied voice with a wonderful teacher while in college.  He used to say, “I don’t want your voice to cloud up from over-use like singers who never studied.”  I also learned invaluable technique from Seth Riggs, a renowned teacher who worked with Michael Jackson, Billy and a number of other well-known singers.
Deniserose adds, “Do you have any pre-concert rituals and/or vocal warm- ups?
BILLY:  I have an allergy to wheat and sugar, so a week before we work, I eliminate them totally from my diet (and then I pig-out afterward!)  Also, both of us intensify our vocal exercises at least two weeks before we sing.  One more thing: we chew sugar-free gum for an hour before the show to lubricate our vocal cords.
McCoo & Davis, Coming to a Town Near You!
Marilyn and Billy, two special fans are quite fervent in their hopes to have you appear in their areas. Robyn Pippins wonders, often “will you be performing in Atlanta anytime soon?” And  Hiromi Hirahata asks, “Do you have a plan to come to Japan in the near future? 47 years passed since The 5th Dimension came to Japan for the very first time. We Japanese fans eagerly hope you will come again and sing for us!”  

Robert:  And may I add to this, because you have fans from Chicago, Boston, New York City and many more places, clamoring for your return engagements. Does management take note of this, and does it help for fans to suggest to you a specific venue or to even request “McCoo and Davis,” specifically at their home town venues?
BOTH:   Robyn, thanks for your enthusiasm for us to return to Atlanta.  We love Atlanta and want to play there again.  We just need the offer to return.
BOTH:   Hiromi, we are very frustrated that we haven’t been back to Japan.  Our experience at Expo ’70 is one we treasure, and winning the Tokyo Music Festival has been a highlight of our careers.

BOTH:   We believe, and have seen evidence, that if enough people express to the right venues an interest in seeing an artist perform in their area, it can encourage the buyers to investigate the possibilities.  So, that being said, we love Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Cleveland, San Diego, Pittsburgh (and many more; the list gets long!).

Speaking of touring, Luann Scribani wonders,  “Over the years, what was your favorite venue to perform in? Is there a particular concert that stands out in your minds?”
MARILYN:  Favorite concert: at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, The Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe opened for The 5th Dimension.  This was a special program where we were able to present to our fans an exciting evening of music and dance  They loved it and the concert was very favorably reviewed in the Los Angeles Times.  (Billy & I got married a week after we closed.)  My favorite place: the Blossom Music Festival in Cleveland; they were always awesome audiences.Appreciation 43
BILLY:   My favorite venue is The Cerritos Performing Arts Center in California because the sound is always incredible.  My most memorable concert was in Saratoga, NY.  The house was filled to capacity, and the audience was waiting for us to come out into the house at the end of “Aquarius” to bring one person each on stage.   We got back on stage and it looked like the entire audience was trying to join us.  They swarmed the stage and the group left…with me still out there singing!  Marilyn came back and got me, grabbed my arm and I left my mic on the floor.  A scary experience!
“Solid Gold” Memories
solid gold
Kon Koroneos says all the way from Melbourne, Australia, “Marilyn, I loved your hair and I loved your style! To Billy, from one bloke to another, you are all style!  To Marilyn, on ‘Sold Gold,’ which of the duets you performed (for example, with Ronnie Milsap, Gordon Lightfoot, etc.) was your favorite? My fav ‘Solid Gold’ duet of yours (with someone other than Billy whose voice I love) is with Paul Williams!”
MARILYN:   I’d never thought about which of the duets I sang was my favorite.  So I had to go to YouTube to jar my memory (Thank God for YouTube!).  There were three that stood out for me:  Cliff Richard and me singing “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” the performance with B.J. Thomas singing his hits medley, and the duet with Carl Wilson singing “God Only Knows.”
Jeff Lahr echoes the thought,”Marilyn, you sang with many wonderful performers on ‘Solid Gold’ over the years. Who were some of your favorites?”

MARILYN:  I’d forgotten how many songs I sang with Cliff Richard; he was always a pleasure to work with (so musical; Billy and I enjoyed the tour we did with him in England a few years ago.)  Singing with the Commodores was so much fun (and a reach for me!).  Paul Williams, in addition to being an incredible songwriter, was also a riot to work with. He toured with The 5th Dimension, so we got to know him well, and he and Billy really hit it off!  Donna Summer and I sang a Christmas duet together. Her voice was so powerful that when she came to my dressing room to rehearse, she almost blew me out of the room!  (And I thought Billy had a powerful voice!)

Brad Katzman shares, “I have followed you two over the years…love your music and wonderful marriage (and reading your autobiography made me feel connected to your lives). Would you consider doing a ‘Solid Gold’ type revival or similar show.
MARILYN:  I’ve learned to always keep my mind open to new ideas.  Who knows?
Scott Lakefield commented on Twitter: “Loved when you hosted ‘Solid Gold,’ Marilyn. Do you think it’ll ever be made available on DVD?
MARILYN:   Sorry, Scott, I don’t have an answer on that one.
Marc Stoc asks, “Hi Marilyn, what are your thoughts on your SOLID GOLD album? Do you wish you had released more solo projects?”
MARILYN:  It was a concept project meant to capitalize on the TV exposure.  I’m sorry it didn’t do better but we all have those experiences in our lives.  One of my favorite songs on that album was “Every Breath You Take.”  I was very pleased with my contemporary Christian CD that was nominated for a Grammy, THE ME NOBODY KNOWS.   I enjoy looking for new project ideas for Billy and me to do together.
Future Recordings, Mar-Bill style!

Robert:  Which leads to Robyn‘s inquiry about you two hopefully “blessing us with potential new recordings.” Marilyn and Billy, we have a number of questions in this regard.

Jungle Room also asks, “Would Billy consider doing a follow-up to his Gospel CD?”  Faithful fan Susan Aglio enthuses, “Marilyn’s Christmas CD is an all-time favorite. I’m hoping Marilyn and Billy might record a new Christmas project!”

BILLY:  Yes, I have thought about doing another Gospel project.
MARILYN:   Billy and I have talked about the possibility of a Christmas project together.  We would enjoy that.
Andy returns with: “With your 50th wedding anniversary on the horizon, have you given any thought to going back into the studio and recording a follow-up to ‘The Many Faces of Love?’ Since your voices are still in such excellent shape, I know we’d all love to hear fresh material from you!”MANY FACES
BOTH:  We haven’t really considered doing a 50th Anniversary project at this point, but we still have a couple of years…
Brian Medoro offers this recording “twist”: “I’ve noticed some artists, in lieu of recording full albums, are releasing songs one-at-a-time. It takes the pressure off especially if the artist is on a tour…and of course, there’s nothing better than seeing you live! Would that concept be something you would consider for yourselves?”

BOTH:   Brian, thanks for the suggestion; today’s market is very different from our original record-making time.  It’s worth considering…
Good for the Soul…marbill CHRISTMAS CONCERTS
Robert:  Marilyn and Billy, some faith-based questions are so lovely as we now light candles in our “Living Room” environment for fellowship…
Nita Durham:  “Do you think being Christians enhanced your spirit to perform ALL kinds of music to the world in order to spread the Gospel? God Bless you and keep on singing!”
BOTH:  We think it’s our duty to spread the good news of God’s love wherever we go.  Sometimes it’s reflected in the songs we sing; sometimes His light is seen through our relationship.  Many people have commented on how moved they are by how we carry ourselves, on stage and off.
And our friend, Pastor Martha Vink poses this touching “twofer”: “Your faith is an integral part of your lives. What do you do to ‘nurture and grow’ your spirituality, especially with such a busy schedule?” She goes on, “What is one of the qualities you love most in one another?”
BOTH:  We start our day with prayer and devotions together, thanking God for each day and counting our blessings, which are many.
MARILYN:  Billy is very kind to everyone and has a very giving spirit.

BILLY:  Marilyn is honest and generous, and very firm in her beliefs.

What a perfect visit, thanks to special fans, and of course “our MarBill”…

Robert: Marilyn and Billy, we can’t thank you enough for welcoming us into your “Living Room” and personally, for having FOREVER 5th DIMENSION host the event. And how timely that we get to unveil it so festively on Marilyn’s birthday which is always a precious date of celebration for your many, many worldwide fans! You still have so many artistic journeys in store for us, and you make it all seem so effortless, we never wish to take your spirit of excellence for granted.  I know in particular, your participation in the Colors of Christmas Tour ’17 and then in the new year, on The Soul Train Cruise will delight many.WESTBURY Davis, Arno, McCooMARILYN & BILLY:  Robert, thank you for coming up with this incredible “Living Room” concept…it’s ingenious! And how beautiful that so many have been wondering about so many things regarding our careers! There were very interesting questions, some we’ve never been asked before, and others that allowed us to take some fun trips down memory lane and share with our “Living Room” friends.


For information about the Colors of Christmas Tour:   https://www.thecolorsofchristmas.com/

PIONEER COLLAGE TWO
Here are 10 specially selected songs, performances, & commercial links:

Moonlight Mile:  https://youtu.be/SET2ebDJmEc

When Did I Lose Your Love:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpNO0uq8xyg

Black Patch:  https://youtu.be/DvBMU3P4ISY

Dimension 5ive:  https://youtu.be/nxNYjtXxwVM

The Worst that Could Happen (live):  https://youtu.be/unsy1CxtWFQ

My Love For You Will Always Be the Same: https://youtu.be/_LFav-4Td6A

The Two of Us (live):  https://youtu.be/B-8KjPv8-5s

JELLO commercial:   https://youtu.be/pS7Z4ygOLbs

Marilyn sings with BJ Thomas:  https://youtu.be/_Z5PTs6e-sY

Marilyn sings with Paul Williams:  https://youtu.be/iwBWsS874_4

    Marilyn+McCoo+Billy+Davis+Jr+Wildlife+WayStation+SIoD42FOyjOxFollow Marilyn & Billy at their Official Facebook page, on Twitter @McCooDavis or visit their website at www.mccoodavis.com

Special thanks to Steve Rosenblum, Sterling Winters
Photo Credits: The Arno 5th Dimension McCoo/Davis Legacy Collection, LaMonte McLemore, Captain Bob, Music in the Mountains, Deniserose Torres, Martha Vink

(Forever 5th Dimension by Robert-Allan Arno, “Marilyn & Billy’s Living Room,” copyright 2008-2017, a production of The Soul of The Voice, Ltd.,
intellectual property, all rights reserved)
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Introducing “Marilyn & Billy’s Living Room”: Your Questions Requested!

LIVING LIVING LIVINGINTRODUCING “Marilyn & Billy’s Living Room“…and Special Fans, YOU’RE INVITED! Over the past 9 years, each time the globally-acclaimed FOREVER 5th DIMENSION blog has had the pleasure of interviewing the 7-time Grammy award-winning “First Couple of Pop & Soul,” hands-down your consistent feedback has been: “It’s like I’m in their living room, being part of the conversation with Marilyn and Billy!” The blog’s creator and trusted biographer of The Original 5th Dimension, Robert-Allan Arno observes, “In my warm chats with Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., we’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve talked the music of a lifetime including ‘going deep’ with rarities, we’ve even done mini-Master Classes in singing interpretation! And we’ve never excluded keeping it faith-based while weaving in all the burning questions fans have wanted to hear!”

Now it’s your chance to ask those questions directly to “MarBill!” Submit them at the relevant thread on their Official Facebook page*— about the music, the historic recordings, memorable stage & media appearances, about marriage, faith…and even fashion!  But no more than TWO questions per fan, please (due to space limitations)! Our first edition will festively be unveiled at the FOREVER 5th DIMENSION blog (right here!) on Marilyn’s birthday, Sept. 30, 2017.  (Questions will be compiled and a curated selection will be submitted to Marilyn & Billy by Sept. 15…so they have time to answer!)  So Fans & Friends, please begin leaving your questions at the thread (on the Official Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. Facebook page*)  and thank you for your cooperation and enthusiasm! –“Team MarBill”

 *Go to the Official Marilyn & Billy Facebook page at:
Black White Columbus Day

This Week: Marilyn & Billy Chat on Radio…Sing at Feinstein’s, San Francisco

StarMcCoo-and-Davis-hugging-from-The-Brokaw-Co_WEB

Fans and friends know, each time their “MarBill” makes a media or stage appearance, the duo likes to bring something “fresh” to the festivities. The First Couple of Pop & Soul will be gracing the west coast airwaves both on Thursday and Friday, talking about their shows this week, Aug. 17-19 at the intimately posh Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco. There, they’ll celebrate #SummerofLove50 with the tastiest Pop, R & B, Blues, Torch and Broadway in town…gold & platinum hits galore and sweet surprises as the 7-time Grammy winners are sure to dazzle.

You can hear McCoo and Davis “live” talking about their Feinstein’s engagement and more—those charming “MarBill” stories including their recent 48th wedding anniversary!—this Thursday on KALW Radio, on the “Open /Air” show. Listen between 1 & 2 pm, pacific time, or starting 4 pm eastern:

Now hear the podcast at:

http://kalw.org/post/mccoo-and-davis-nikko-mendelssohn-s-elijah-something-rotten

Then on Friday, the twosome joins award-winning actor, comedian & author, Brian Copeland on K-Go Radio for a full half hour, 2:15-2:45 pm, pacific time, or starting 5:15 pm eastern:

Now hear the archive of this absolutely lively, charming interview at:

http://www.kgoradio.com/briancopeland/

It’s #SummerofLove50, MarBill-style…in concert-cabaret, chatting on the radio…making August 2017 “a nicer place,” indeed!  –Robert-Allan Arno

Seats are Limited*…

*Now Sold Out!!

See Marilyn & Billy at Feinstein’s at the Nikko this Thurs – Sat, Aug. 17-19…

For tix and more information: 

http://www.feinsteinsatthenikko.com/calendar/

9th Anniversary Edition of Forever 5th Dimension

9th ANNIVERSARY COLLAGE TWO9 years ago, while sitting in Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.’s suite, post-show at the Cafe Carlyle, during our “cozy catch-up” visit I presented the concept of the “Forever 5th Dimension” blog-magazine.  It was met with immediate instinctual approval by “MarBill” with Billy smiling, “I like the title,” and Marilyn adding with a wink, “I’d read it!”  And that they both have, with such kind and astute validation & participation over these past 9 years where we first started on MySpace and migrated over to WordPress in recent years!

After decades of affiliation with my heroes, the members of The Original 5th Dimension, these past 9 years have been cherished for so many reasons, the adventures we’ve shared alone are thrilling: the St. Louis Walk of Fame Induction of The 5th Dimension, the Friar’s Club salute to Marilyn & Billy, the book launch in Vegas of LaMonte McLemore’s memoir, “From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension” for which I am the co-author, helping promote Florence LaRue’s astounding one-woman “Jazz a LaRue!” show at NYC’s Metropolitan Room and our attending some Broadway shows together to toast it all!  PLAYLIST SCAN 001Compiling tunes with the group’s members and doing liners for “Playlist” for Sony just like we did with “Ultimate 5th Dimension” was “scholarly hip”…and of course, reporting on the countless sold-out, ovation inducing concert events of Marilyn & Billy (the First Couple of Pop n’ Soul) and the indomitable Florence LaRue & The 5th Dimension (including Patrice Morris, Willie Williams, Leonard Tucker & Floyd Smith) is simply sensational!  And our worldwide fan participation for each of our star’s birthdays is always an awesome “sunshine” celebration!  Marilyn & Billy, Florence and LaMonte (plus Kyle Townson who is so supportive in repping his beloved dad, Ron)–each of them are not only cherished friends but mentoring colleagues who are a total pleasure to work with…their taste and faithful ethic are unparalleled. It just makes sense that the essence of The 5th Dimension brought our world together in harmony during the turbulent times of the late ’60’s/early 70’s…and it’s a blessing that these artists continue to enthrall us with such magic and energy, today.  Also the support of another personal mentor, renowned producer Bones Howe is never forgotten.

DANCING

The Original 5th Dimension

So, in celebrating our 9th year, I want to conclude with a few links to some of my favorite editions…as we look forward to new horizons from our favorite stars…that’s what “Forever 5th” is all about!  In  gratitude, Robert-Allan Arno

–2 summers ago, Marilyn & Billy stopped by for this “super-sized” edition of FOREVER 5th called “Singing in the Light.” We had so much fun going deep into sentimental recordings, answering fan questions…we actually laughed and cried!  Take a look back, here: https://forever5thdimension.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/marilyn-billy-singing-in-the-light/

forever5thdimension.wordpress.com
     If you’re reading FOREVER 5th DIMENSION, then you’re well-acquainted with Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.:  the seven-time Grammy winning founding members and former lead singer…

–This past February’s special edition for Black History Month featured a charming segment on the timeless Florence’s milestone birthday soire with heartfelt thoughts from our “delightful diva,” herself and special photo ops.  We include The 5th’s recognition by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, too. Read “Celebrating A Legacy” here: https://forever5thdimension.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/celebrating-a-legacy/

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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 …

–It took 4 years to co-pen LaMonte’s now hit memoir, “From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension: A Life Fulfilled in Baseball, Photography and Music,” and Mac & I would never trade the excavating experience for anything in the word, lol!  We celebrated the book’s launch in  early ’15, an “afternoon in Vegas” via “Mac & Arno’s onstage chat show” with special guests Marilyn & Billy (and proclamations from Florence and Bones)…and then we attended MarBill’s stellar Valentine’s show that evening! Read all about it here aka “Valentine’s in Vegas: Mac’s New Book, MarBill’s Sold-Out Show”: https://forever5thdimension.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/lamonte-marilyn-billy-macs-new-book-marbills-sold-out-show/

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LaMonte, Marilyn & Billy: a Valentine’s in Vegas Escapade! by Robert-Allan Arno Dateline Feb 14: “After all, The 5th Dimension stood for love,” is part of …

–Remembering Ron “Sweets” Townson’s birthday is always important at FOREVER 5th DIMENSION. But for our 9th anniversary, we also acknowledge the recent anniversary of his passing, Aug. 2, 2001.  Let’s put the spotlight on his lasting musical legacy with a look at our most comprehensive salute ever, experience “Sweet Memories of Sweets” here: https://forever5thdimension.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/celebrating-ron-townsons-birthday/

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SWEET MEMORIES OF “SWEETS” by Robert-Allan Arno As we honor his official birth date (it’s January 29 and not the 20th as so many sites state in inadvertent error) at “Foreve…

–We have some nifty interviews with Bones Howe in our archive (the old MySpace days!) and will bring you some excerpts–by popular request– in the near future!

Lovely Quotes from Lovely People:

“Robert, no one can weave all of those elements about our music together in a superb lyrical tapestry like you do. You have a way with words that is truly God’s gift to you.” —Marilyn McCoo

“I’m  so proud of the work Robert does for The 5th Dimension’s biography and my own, I’ve truly learned so much from him!”–LaMonte McLemore

“Robert is ‘The 6th Dimension!’”–Florence LaRue on Rewound Radio

“Robert, you never cease to amaze us! Know how much we appreciate you & your involvement in our life & career over the years. With so much knowledge to share, you bring a spirit of excellence to all that you do. We love you!”  —Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.

“Robert brings his rare passion to The 5th Dimension legacy, he is wonderful in  keeping us fresh in his creativity.”–Bones Howe, The 5th Dimension Producer

Essential Links:

RARE FLOR WINGS

The Delightful Florence LaRue

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

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First Couple of Pop & Soul

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

book coverVisit LaMonte McLemore on: Facebook, Twitter @LaMonteMcLemore, 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

Special thanks to Steve Rosenblum of Sterling Winters

(Forever 5th Dimension by Robert-Allan Arno, copyright 2008-17, a production of The Soul of the Voice, Ltd., intellectual property, all rights reserved)

Happy 48th Anniversary: A Salute to Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.’s Greatest Duet Hits

MARBILL 48 Collage

Summer is always a sentimental time for fans of Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr., for July 26 is the date of their wedding anniversary, this year marks 48 years!  The seven-time Grammy winning founding members and former lead singers of legends The 5th Dimension, the scintillating “You Don’t Have to be a Star” duo who have shone brightly on “TV and stage” for decades are a timeless pair.

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McCoo & Davis: Timeless

Indeed, the beauteous McCoo and the distinguished Davis continue to perform to the best reviews of their career.  Just recently they honored Jimmy Webb at Carnegie Hall, stopping the show with their 50th anniversary rendition of “Up-Up and Away.”  And coming up next month, as part of the 50th anniversary of “The Summer of Love,” the twosome will present their own love songs, hits, torch and blues at Feinstein’s at the Nikko, August 17-19 in San Francisco. But enough with “the 50th” because for our “MarBill” it’s merely their 48th! In celebration, a sampling of special fans have participated in the following survey to honor their Greatest Duet Hits. And when it’s all been said, in making such artistic choices an extension of  our affection for the “Sweethearts of Pop n’ Soul,” we’d like to express our heartfelt congratulations and blessings on the occasion of your 48th anniversary, Marilyn & Billy.  With Love, Robert & The Special Fans

I HOPE ALBUMThe Question:  If there would be an ULTIMATE McCOO & DAVIS GREATEST HITS CD featuring your favorites of their recorded DUETS, what personal top 5 (in no necessary order) would you choose? Pick singles and/or album tracks from their 4 primary duet projects (“I Hope We Get to Love in Time,” “The Two of Us,” “Marilyn & Billy,” “The Many Faces of Love,”)…or from their select Original 5th Dimension duets….or perhaps inspirational tunes like “Praise Ye the Lord” or “Keep the Lovelight Burning”…then there’s “I Believe in You and Me,” a duet featured on Marilyn’s solo album…etc., and THANK YOU for your participation!

The Fans Respond:

Brian Medoro Your Love, Together Let’s Find Love, Look What You’ve Done To My Heart, My Very Special Darling, What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)RARE YOUR LOVE

Robyn Pippins Hi Robert, my top 5 would be You Don’t Have To Be A Star, In My Lifetime, You Are So Beautiful, Your Love, and The Two of Us.STAR SINGLE

Alain Baptiste My Love For You Will Always Be The Same, Nightsong, I Got Love For You, Just Once and our fifth is every other one they recorded! Happy Anniversary, Mariette and Alain

Paul Corley Perfect Dancer, Bye Bye Baby (w/ The Versatiles), There’s Got To Be a Happy Ending, We’ve Got To Get It On Again, The Times

RARE 8 TRACK

Remember 8 Tracks?!

Jim Handakas I Believe In You and Me, The Two of Us, Carry Me, So Many Things for Free, You Don’t Have to Be a StarI believe in you and me

Deniserose Torres How Do You Keep the Music Playing, Look What You’ve Done to My Heart, I Thought It Took A Little (But Today I Fell In Love), Keep The Lovelight Burning…. there is about a 7 way tie for a 5th song…but I will go with The Two of Us.MANY FACES

Loretta Sorensen I always had poor decision making skills causing me anxiety! But this is a nice and gentle anxiety ’cause it involves Marilyn & Billy – ha ha! My favs are Bobbie’s Blues, What Does It Take, Your Love, We Can Work It Out and You Don’t Have to Be A Star!

Estes John My Reason to Be is You, Keep the Lovelight Burning, How Do You Keep the Music Playing, Love all the Hurt Away, Look What You’ve Done to My Heart

SHINE ON DISCORARE SILVER MOONSusie Paige Shine on Silver Moon, You Don’t Have to Be a Star, What Does it Take, The Two of Us, Praise Ye the Lord

BILLY DREAM

“Praise Ye” appears on “The Love of God”

Douglas C. Charles Wishing these two Lovebirds the best of Anniversaries – and many more joyous ones to come. My “top 5” – Look What You’ve Done To My Heart, Your Love, Bobbie’s Blues, Every Night and My Very Special DarlingRARE LWYD HEART

Renee T Armstead I have to say for the first one What Does It Take. Then Bobbie’s Blues, and Your Precious Love. Also, Soul and Inspiration, Together Let’s Find Love5th-dimension-together-lets-find-love-bellSusan Aglio Every Night, What Does it Take, Soul and Inspiration, I Believe in You and Me, and I Hope We Get to Love in Time. And I just have to add one more…Keep the Lovelight Burning!

the me nobody

“Lovelight” appears on “The Me Nobody Knows”

Dale Kocik You Don’t Have To Be A Star, Your Love, Every Night, Together Let’s Find Love, Soul and Inspiration.

YOUR LOVE SINGLEAndy Gard Your Love, Your Precious Love, Soul and Inspiration, My Reason To Be Is You, Carry MeMarilyn and Billy Album

Elston Harry (of The Friends of Distinction) We Can Work it Out, Love all the Hurt Away

TOGETHER LETS FINDRobert-Allan Arno Gonna take a crack at this myself. I find the following 1st duet album sequence miraculously indelible:  I Still Will Be With You, Never Gonna Let You Go, Nothing Can Stop Me. Then, Praise Ye the Lord. Finally, I will “cheat” by combining Together Let’s Find Love in “mash-up” with You Are So Beautiful!

 

Sweet Tweets!  Marilyn & Billy Tweeted @mccoodavis their own day-by-day Anniversary Countdown with links to these musical gems….

Special Thanks to Steve Rosenblum at Sterling-Winters

Forever 5th Dimension by Robert-Allan Arno, copyright 2008-2017, a production of The Soul of The Voice, Ltd., intellectual property, all rights reserved

McCoo & Davis: Summer of Love at Feinstein’s, San Francisco in August!

As part of its celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco is thrilled to announce the appearances of…

MARILYN McCOO & BILLY DAVIS, JR.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 17, 8 P.M.;

FRIDAY, AUGUST 18, 8 P.M.;

SATURDAY, AUGUST 19, 7 P.M.

TICKETS: $65 – $110

For tickets, go to events at: http://www.feinsteinsatthenikko.com/calendar/

Grammy Award-winning and gold & platinum-selling duo, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr., will celebrate their multifaceted 5 decade career in a show that includes R&B, Gospel, Jazz, Blues and Pop. As the original stars and lead singers of the legendary group The 5th Dimension, they launched champagne and pop/soul classics including “Up, Up and Away,” “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” “Worst That Could Happen,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Sweet Blindness,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” and “One Less Bell to Answer.” After leaving the group, Marilyn & Billy recorded “You Don’t Have to be a Star,” a chart topping #1 record which earned them their 7th Grammy Award and a television series on CBS.

Enjoy this FOREVER 5th DIMENSION slide show of Marilyn & Billy, today with some fun “throwbacks,” too!

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Visit Marilyn & Billy at http://www.mccoodavis.com; or at their official FB page or on Twitter @mccoodavis

(Forever 5th Dimension by Robert-Allan Arno, a production of The Soul of the Voice, Ltd., copyright 2018-17, all rights reserved)

It’s a “Billy’s Greatest Hits” Celebration: A Birthday Tribute from the Fans!

Billy Birthday Collage TWOJune 26, 2017–The birthday of Billy Davis, Jr., our Gentleman of Soul has been special cause for celebration over the 9 years we’ve been doing FOREVER 5th DIMENSION, honoring the man whose motto is “What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.”  And that’s been proven in each and every one of his recorded and onstage renderings that have moved us over the years, from ballads to Blues, sweet-Soul treatises to full-throttle romps. Literally as I am writing this, our friends at REWOUND radio are honoring my own “Billy Birthday Request” in playing that tune of nostalgic loss yet eternal forgiveness, “Ashes to Ashes”…a personal favorite 5th Dimension single of Billy’s.  And last month, while his superstar wife of soon-to-be 48 years, Marilyn McCoo and the equally stellar Mr. Davis were being feted by the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters, it was fellow Original 5th Dimension mate, Florence LaRue who declared emotionally from the dais that “No one sounds like Billy, his voice still brings a tear to my eye.”  Also in May, at the Carnegie Hall tribute to Jimmy Webb, it was Billy who brought down the house, garnering a standing O for his interpretation of “The Worst that Could Happen”…a gem from “The Magic Garden.” magic gardenAnd there are countless treasures from Billy that flood the “music of our minds” with his inimitable tone, textured timbre and depth of interpretive skills.  “That’s not me, it’s God working through me” is Billy’s sincerely humble response to the many accolades he’s received from the likes of Webb himself,  Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire), Eddie Levert (The O’Jays), and fellow Original 5th founder, LaMonte McLemore.  And Marilyn has endearingly talked to us about encouraging her hubby to record “When a Man Loves a Woman” for their “Many Faces of Love” project, and how he helped her with phrasing on her own iconic “One Less Bell to Answer.” Now here’s  a sampling of “song-choice hurrahs” from select special fans who were invited to partake in this year’s “survey” as follows, for Billy’s Birthday Celebration ’17—

By special request:  Choose your Top 5 Billy solos (in no particular order, unless you wish to do so) for a mythical yet potential Billy’s Greatest Hits CD, from his most memorable solo recordings with The Original 5th Dimension, or on the MarBill duet albums including the recent “The Many Faces of Love” or Live CD projects. Or choose from his inspirational album, “The Love of God” (formerly “Let Me Have a Dream”)…or an obscure single like the “soulicious” Three Steps From True Love, perhaps!BILLY BILLY

The Fans’ Responses…

Susie Paige:  All are great of course but my favorites include: “Summer’s Daughter,” “Somebody Warm Like Me,” “A Change is Gonna Come,” “The Worst That Could Happen,” and “There Never Was a Day.”

Susan Aglio:  Billy has SO many amazing songs but if I had to pick, my favorites are “The Singer,”  which still can make me cry when I listen to it and “Speaking With My Heart,”  which “spoke” to me personally.

MANY FACESRobyn Pippins: “When A Man Loves A Woman,” “Stay With Me,” “Stepping Out/Stepping In,” “The Singer,” “When Something is Wrong with My Baby.” Thanks Robert, I could go on and on!!

PORTAIT ALBUM COVERRenee Armstead:  For me it’s of course “A Change is Gonna Come” and “Broken Wing Bird.”  LOVE'S LINES ALBUM

Phyl Craig-Noto: THE SINGER!!!!!

Brian Medoro: “Don’t Stop For Nothin’,” “ I Just Want To Be Your Friend,” “Requiem: 820 Latham,” “Half Moon,” “I’ve Got A Feeling.” I could list tons more, but that’s my opening set list!!EARTHBOUND ALBUM

Cynthia Malachi White: My favorites are:
“When a Man Loves a Woman,” “I’m Blessed,”Try a Little Tenderness,” “Summer’s Daughter,“ “A Change Is Gonna Come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deniserose Torres: “Let It Be Me,” “Leave a Little Room,” “When Something is Wrong with My Baby,” “A Change is Gonna Come”… the 5th choice is always the hardest ‘cause I don’t want to leave anything off … but I will add some Blues and go with “Let the Good Times Roll!”

John Estes: My top 5 in order are:
“Broken Wing Bird,” “The Singer,“ “Requiem: 820 Latham,” “Summer’s Daughter,” “It’ll Never Be the Same Again”  (I also want to give Honorable Mention to “Rusty Hands of Time”…what a great song!)billy tumbler one

 

 

Renee Armstead: Oh yes! “Rusty Hands of Time!” I LOVE that song. Add this to my list too, Robert. I remember after a MarBill concert I went to about four years ago, I mentioned this rare song to Billy and he laughed and said, “Listen to you! ‘Rusty Hands of Time?’ That’s an old song!”billy tumber two

Douglas C. Charles:  Billy recorded so many great songs. His range and mastering of a song are incredible. It would be impossible for me to list in an exact order. That being said, five of my favorites are…” Leave A Little Room,” “Requiem: 820 Latham ,” “A Change Is Gonna Come” (best version I have ever heard, by the way), “It’ll Never Be The Same Again,” “I’ve Got A Feeling.”  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU BILLY!!!

BILLY CHECKLoretta Sorensen: Here ya go: “Let It Be Me,” “Requiem: 820 Latham,” “The Worst That Could Happen,” “Misty Roses,” and “A Change is Gonna Come.” Happiest of Birthdays, Dear Billy!

Leave a Little RoomAndy Gard: Here are mine in basically chronological order, without rhyme or reason or extraneous personal opinion: “Misty Roses,” “Let It Be Me,” “Feelin’ Alright?,” “Leave A Little Room,” and “ I’ve Got A Feeling.” Happy Birthday to one of the greatest soul singers of our generation! (OK, so maybe a little personal opinion.)

Alain Baptiste: Mariette and I have been thinking about this…we immediately said A CHANGE IS GONNA COME and LEAVE A LITTLE ROOM. Mariette says MISTY ROSES too, I like FEELIN’ ALRIGHT. Our 5th choice is ALL the rest !! Happy Birthday and God bless a legend, BILLY DAVIS JR!! –Mariette & Alain

PARTY LINE BILLY

“Surprise, Fans!  Now this is a rare one, huh?!”

I want to thank the fans for their select input which is a microcosm of what I’m sure so many feel about Billy’s artistry, the world over!  Certainly, I too can speak of my favorite Billy tunes–each is timeless, taking on new meaning with each year–but talking of “years,” I’d like to share a snippet of my personal birthday note to Billy:

WESTBURY Davis, Arno, McCoo

Please know how grateful I am to know you over the years. With each new encounter, I am so touched by your thoughtful authenticity. You always seem to express things in a deep pastoral manner that serves as soothing “food for thought”…even when we’re sharing a laugh like at the recent Carnegie Hall after-party, it is caring and substantive. Man-to-man, I appreciate your continuing to be not only a great entertainer, but an overall role model. 

Lastly, Marilyn & Billy brought the fans their own brand of fun this year with their 6-day “Countdown to Billy’s Birthday” on Twitter @mccoodavis.  I’m gonna end this tribute with our duo, sharing the links to these amazing old n’ new classics so you can have your own Billy listening party!

Our Warm Happy Birthday Wishes & Blessings to a Great Man,

Robert & the special Fans

Twitter Banner MarBillCountdown to Billy’s Birthday as seen on Twitter @mccoodavis…

Reflecting on memorable solos like this song of pure hope, LEAVE A LITTLE ROOM https://t.co/mE5scFB6u9

The smooth MISTY ROSES from our 1st Orig 5th Dimension album spells romance. https://t.co/42xEJwOtQz

The lyrical poetry of @realjimmywebb makes REQUIEM: 820 LATHAM a moving favorite. https://t.co/J8bFasbr01

BillyDavisJrA CHANGE IS GONNA COME makes a statement that’s an important part of our show to this day. https://t.co/G5himCfsee

From the EARTHBOUND album, “get down” with the Rock n’ Soul of I’VE GOT A FEELING! https://t.co/AsFe1I6GrA

From THE MANY FACES OF LOVE, WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN is a special “Marilyn Request!” https://t.co/FTmT6JkmeN

new marbill don' like7-time Grammy winning Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. appear in their Broadway-like review “Up-Up & Away–a musical fable” and in-concert…for appearance dates, “like” their official Facebook page or visit http://www.mccoodavis.com

Special Thanks to Steve Rosenblum, Sterling/Winters

(Forever 5th Dimension by Robert-Allan Arno, copyright 2008-2017 is a production of The Soul of The Voice, Ltd, intellectual property, all rights reserved)