Tag Archives: Robert-Allan Arno

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)

Forever 5th Dimension–Greatest Hits of ’16!

year-end-collage-16-revisedI was on the radio with LaMonte McLemore this past spring talking with broadcasting great Jimmy Howes of WGHT and we all came to a simultaneous revelation–not that “The Declaration” somehow foreshadowed “Hamilton” (although we did and it did!), but that “Mac,” Florence (and The current 5th Dimension) and Marilyn & Billy are still here, as vibrant as ever, doing their “groovy thing”…spreading “sunshine”…with “love lines” in every note sung, every interview they do. To the special fans–we who are considered friends, and part of “The 5th Family”–that reality is a true blessing to celebrate. And so we bring you our annual “Greatest Hits” review of ’16 (in no particular order) as we look forward to a new year in grace, with “balloons, picnics and bells” ringing us in! And we also toast the dawning of our 9th year of FOREVER 5th DIMENSION, you’ve made us a global success and we are grateful. —Robert-Allan Arno, Biographer The Original 5th Dimension & LaMonte McLemore

COOL 5th BODY NOW THREEFlorence LaRue & The 5th Dimension continue to present their family-friendly, sophisticated n’ smokin’ evenings of “Champagne Soul” all over the country and the world. This past year, a concert in the Philippines was a highlight for the quintet which features Patrice Morris, Willie Williams, Leonard Tucker & Floyd Smith.  Our “delightful diva” is age-proof as she celebrates 50 years with the group and appears with today’s 5th on the top morning TV info-tainment shows, often.  Florence also did a mini-tour with Maureen McGovern and Freda Payne bringing joy this Christmas season. Ms. LaRue tells me with classy sass, “We have some catching up to do!”…you know our lovely lady and her abounding energies have lotsa’ sweet plans for ’17…of course, look for The 5th Dimension lead by Florence on tour…their authentic harmonies, all your favorite hits, are fresher than ever!  Just in–A sold-out concert in St. Petersburg started the new year on the perfect note; a Las Vegas evening on Sat. Feb 21 at the Cannery Casino Hotel continues the onstage “5th fab fun”!

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

Unforgettable Seven Gen BobMarilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr., those eternal sweethearts of Rock n’ Soul, celebrated 47 years of marriage this past July.  They have been busy doing what they love best, touring with their contemporary concert presentation of Blues, Torch and Pop-Soul plus an all-new Broadway-like extravaganza, in many ways their musical autobiography titled:  “Up-Up and Away: A Musical Fable.”  Our “MarBill” appear frequently on radio and TV (a highlight was a visit to “Sandyland” on Sirius hosted by Sandra Bernhard this past spring) and are regular contributors to FOREVER 5th DIMENSION with their touching thoughts and astute commentary peppered all throughout our Blog entries.  I thank them wholeheartedly for their continued enthusiasm, care and wise mentoring!  Our favorite duo is already gearing up for their winter residency at the Colony in Palm Beach, Florida (Jan. 17-28), and for their 3rd Valentine’s weekend appearance in a row (Feb. 11-12) at the Orleans Casino Hotel in Las Vegas!

Read our FOREVER 5th DIMENSION Review of MarBill’s “Up-Up & Away:  A Musical Fable” at: https://forever5thdimension.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/marilyn-billy-bring-an-irresistible-musical-fable/

For up-to-the-minute concert news, visit Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. at their official FB page or at their website:  http://www.mccoodavis.com

mac-by-kenny–I probably talk to “Mac,” LaMonte McLemore who has nicknamed me “Rev. Arno,” nearly every day. We are bonded for life, my always suave “brother like no other” because of his hit memoir which I had the pleasure to co-author, “From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension: A Life Fulfilled in Baseball, Photography and Music,” still doing well, now in its 2nd edition.  Mac and I are always coming up with something to confer on, for instance his new song, a powerful anthem of peace, brilliantly produced by Lloyd Tolbert with sweet-soul vocal by Julio Hanson, is called “Cease Fire.” We’ve had much fun promoting this tune (its title is also a chapter name in the memoir), getting the message out to the media & the masses.  If you liked “A Love Like Ours” and “The Singer” (both penned by LaMonte), you’ll love his concept of “Cease Fire”–and guess what, Mac even does the spoken-word narration on the recording!  LaMonte has appeared on numerous radio /TV shows & podcasts this past year, a highlight was being featured in Kelly Wright’s uplifting “Beyond the Dream” series on Fox news.  About the new year, LaMonte says with his mischievously visionary smile, “Let’s do it bigger and better in 2017!”

book coverOrder “From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension” on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Hobo-Flats-5th-Dimension-Photography/dp/0692307362?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

J100Download “Cease Fire” at CD Baby: http://cdbaby.com/cd/lamontemclemore

Join LaMonte McLemore on his lively Facebook page; Mac is on Twitter @lamontemclemore

–This concluding “greatest hits” entry is for you! complete-singlesBut first, a hurrah that just in time for the holidays, our friends at Real Gone Music released the comprehensive 3-CD box set:  “The 5th Dimension, The Complete Soul City/Bell Singles–’66-’75” available for order at:  http://shop.realgonemusic.com/collections/upcoming/products/the-5th-dimension-the-complete-soul-city-bell-singles-3cd-set  MeTV issued a very popular article, too this past year, perhaps the opposite of “completest” with “The Story of The 5th Dimension in 5 Glorious Songs” at:  http://www.metv.com/lists/the-story-of-the-5th-dimension-in-five-glorious-songs  And our pals at Rewound Radio have The 5th prominently on their annual year-end Top 77 Hits of All-Time survey with “One Less Bell” and “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” still riding high.  (Listen to Rewound on the net at:  www.rewoundradio.com)

And now, what’s on your personal “5th wish list” for the new year? Taking in some concerts with some post-show photo ops with Florence & crew or Marilyn & Billy…or wanting some more CD re-issues?  (We have a few things still in the vaults by the way, but that’s another story!) And for you left-fielders, we’re working to get some “unexpected” surprises on the horizon, too!  Stay tuned, friends & fans and immeasurable thanks to each & every one of you for your continued support. And to our stars…Florence, Marilyn & Billy and LaMonte…may you shine more brightly than ever!!no-jive3-men-try-this-3

year-end-personal(Photos: The Arno 5th McCoo/Davis Legacy Collection and courtesy General Bob, Andy Gard, DeniseRose Torres, Getty Images, “LaMonte art” by Kenneth Green; Forever 5th Dimension by Robert-Allan Arno is a production of The Soul of The Voice, Ltd, copyright 2008-17, intellectual property, all rights reserved.)

LaMonte McLemore, Grammy-winning Legend of The 5th Dimension Releases New Song: “Cease Fire”

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The 6-time Grammy winning founder of Pop-Soul legendary singing group, The 5th Dimension is keeping it fresh these days, celebrating a hit memoir and now releasing a new song he wrote titled, “Cease Fire.”  There’s a reason LaMonte McLemore was always known as “the visionary Dimension.”  “Cease Fire” is actually a chapter in “Mac’s” memoir, “From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension: A Life Fulfilled in Baseball, Photography and Music.”  It concerns a heinous act  witnessed by his maternal grandmother Gertrude (the lynching of her brother), and how her reaction of unconditional forgiveness literally shaped the winning trajectory of LaMonte’s life.  McLemore’s biographer Robert-Allan Arno explains, “I thought it important to include the lyrics of ‘Cease Fire’ at the beginning of the chapter…they’re like a prayer.”  Vegas Mac Glover TwoMcLemore adds,”It’s definitely the right time to present ‘Cease Fire’ as a fully-actualized song and in fact, my producer/arranger Lloyd Tolbert encouraged me to bookend the recording with my spoken-word narration.”  The beloved star continues, “Years ago when the term ‘weapons of mass destruction’ was heavily in the news and it turned out they really didn’t exist, it became a light bulb moment for me.  I thought, perhaps they did…as in ‘look in the mirror, friends!'”  McLemore feels, “More than ever, ‘Cease Fire’ is what the world needs today.” He’s quick to stress his song’s concept is a “global call for world peace,” envisioning it as kind of nouveau “We Are the World.”  Performed on the CD single by the sweet-soul vocalist Julio Hanson, along with McLemore’s spoken narrative, “Cease Fire” is a mighty anthem.

docu-75No stranger to anthems of a generation, McLemore and The 5th Dimension are responsible for mega hits like the uplifting “Up-Up and Away” and the unifying “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” the latter, a medley from Broadway’s HAIR.  Spending 6-straight weeks at #1 in the spring of ‘69, the Platinum “mash-up” is known as one of the biggest hits of the Rock n’ Roll era.  “Cease Fire” isn’t McLemore’s first foray into songwriting.  Fan favorites, “A Love Like Ours” and “The Singer” were penned by LaMonte and appeared on the quintet’s seminal albums PORTRAIT and LOVE’S LINES, ANGLES AND RHYMES, respectively. Besides The 5th Dimension, the latter tune was also recorded by Gladys Knight and the Pips and was a serious recording consideration for Frank Sinatra. More recently, another McLemore composition, “If I Could Fly” was a contender for a major airline’s ad campaign.  Mr. McLemore, also a world renowned photographer of 5 decades for JET magazine’s history-shaping “Beauty of the Week” feature, expressed to his biographer, “With my photos, I just see things. With songwriting, I just feel things.”

The official release date for “Cease Fire” with accompanying video is December 9, 2016.  It will be available for download purchase at CD Baby. McLemore smiles thoughtfully, “I’ve had a blessed career.  My dreams have come true as my prophetic grandma always predicted. Today, my wish is that my dream of ‘Cease Fire’ will resonate in the hearts and souls of my fans and friends, old and new.”  –The Soul of The Voice, Ltd.

J100“Cease Fire” is available for download at:  http://cdbaby.com/cd/lamontemclemore

Mr. McLemore is on Twitter @lamontemclemore

Happy Birthday: Celebrating “The Ultimate Marilyn”

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Dateline: September 30— It’s that memorable date we get to celebrate the birthday of an artist whose legacy of musical integrity defies categorization. Ms. Marilyn McCoo is not only a transcendent voice of our lives but the personification of beauty and class.  For 2016 at FOREVER 5th DIMENSION, we asked select fans to contribute their thoughts with the following request:
Let’s have some fun creating the “Ultimate Marilyn McCoo” CD! We want you to select your Top 5 (recorded) choices of what you think should be included. Be creative, for now this is solely a “dream” project..but who knows where it may go?! Select from classic Marilyn “Vocal Solos” from The 5th Dimension recordings, from the Marilyn & Billy sessions, from newer things like “The Many Faces of Love” and “MarBill Live” or inspirational work like her Christmas CD or “The Me Nobody Knows.”  Or how ’bout the “Solid Gold” album or maybe better yet, re-mastering some of her other stellar covers as seen on YouTube, many performed as host of “Solid Gold.” Ready-ready?! And now YOUR Top 5 recorded tunes for the “Ultimate Marilyn…as we wish Ms. McCoo her most wonderfully “ultimate” birthday ever, with our love, blessings and admiration. Go, friends n’ fans! 
–Robert-Allan Arno
_____
Jim Handakas Tough one, but …”One Less Bell,” If Could Reach You,” “Never My Love.” “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues,” “Always On My Mind” (the latter 2 from “Solid Gold,” the TV show and the album, respectively.)  Happy Birthday and thank you, Marilyn! Always stellar. ❤️
Andre Wayne MaloyHmm, this is hard, of course “One Less Bell To Answer” and “Wedding Bell Blues.” Also, “My Tribute (To God Be The Glory)” (on YouTube), “I Dreamed A Dream” (PBS), “Always On My Mind” (the “Solid Gold” album). Happy, Happy Birthday, Marilyn!
Andre Wayne Maloy's photo.

Blake Morant (with PauletteMorant)Love your bid for us to salute Marilyn, Robert-Allan Arno, my brother. Many of Marilyn’s solos rank among the best of the mezzo sopranos. While it may be difficult to isolate which of her songs are favorites, we’d like to submit three very special ones: 1. “The Me Nobody Knows” (inspirational, it has uplifted us at low-feeling times); 2. “Heart Stop Beating in Time” (written by the Bee Gees; haunting and soulful); and 3. “Love’s Lines, Angles and Rhymes” (mysterious with lyrics that are deep and somewhat enigmatic).
Dave MazeThat’s easy for me being her biggest fan and finally getting the chance to meet her in AC after 40 years! “One Less Bell,” “If I Could Reach You,” “Never My Love.” “For Your Eyes Only,” (from “Solid Gold”).  Happy Birthday, Marilyn. ❤️
Eric RogersHappy Birthday, Marilyn. I guess “Aquarius” would have to be my favorite. what a voice! She sings like she is smiling!
Douglas C. CharlesHappy Birthday, Marilyn! I’d have to choose “When Did I Lose Your Love,” “If I Could Reach You,” “Open Your Window,” “Love’s Lines, Angles and Rhymes” (which I got to hear “live” several years ago at the Cerritos Center!) and “Never Gonna Be the Same.”  (I’ll also say that I remember well, Marilyn singing a song called “Loneliness” on a daytime TV show–written by Paul Williams. Maybe it could be a bonus cut on my fantasy Marilyn album!)

Dale Kocik“Love’s Lines,” “Open Your Window,” “Never My Love.” I listen to your beautiful voice frequently. Have a great birthday!

Susie PaigeHere’s mine: “One Less Bell” and “Wedding Bell Blues,” of course. Plus, “The Me Nobody Knows,” “Away in a Manger” (for Christmas), and “Everything’s Been Changed.”🎶🎂

Brian MedoroMy #1 is always “Never My Love,” the rest, in no particular order, would be “Love’s Lines,” “If I Could Reach You,” “House For Sale,” “Solid Gold,”…oh, I could go on and on!  Happy Birthday, Marilyn!

Ronald Lange TOUGH TASK!!  “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All,” “If I Could Reach You,” “Love’s Lines, Angles and Rhymes,” “Never My Love,” and “One Less Bell to Answer.”

Don ThomasI’m fortunate to have met you, Marilyn. I traveled with you and Billy to Israel in ’92. “Love’s Lines, Angles and Rhymes” is a masterpiece, “If I Could Reach You” brings tears to my eyes. Many others of course! Happy Birthday, Marilyn!

Susie Howard “One Less Bell to Answer” (my fave!), “Last Night I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All,” “Never My Love.” Happy Birthday, Beautiful Marilyn!

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Joan TrueloveHappy Birthday, Marilyn (from LaMonte’s sister)!…Susan Aglio:  Robert, I’m on vacation right now but certainly wanted to stop by to wish Marilyn special birthday blessings with love!Robyn Pippins:  Hi Marilyn, I wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday. I love your singing, but what I admire most about you and your husband, Billy is how you give all the praise to God.
Alain BaptisteWe agree with many choices already stated and think “Saving All My Love For You” has a place in Marilyn’s recorded history. Our top personal choice is “Warrior For The Lord.” We wish Miss McCoo a very happy birthday, God bless a true lady, Mariette and Alain Baptiste
Deniserose TorresAt first I was thinking, “Thank goodness we get to pick five!”… but after going over my list, I could add so many more…but I will pick!! “One Less Bell,” “If I Could Reach You,” “Heart Stop Beating in Time,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man” (from “Showboat”), “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.”

Renee T ArmsteadHappy Birthday, Marilyn! My favorite Marilyn songs are “Never My Love,” “One Less Bell to Answer,” “Love’s Lines, Angles, and Rhymes,” “Open Your Window,” and “The Girls’ Song (with Florence). Have a great day on your birthday and may you have many more!!!

Renee T Armstead's photo.

Hiromi HirahataIt’s very hard for me to choose my Top 5, Robert!😊
“One Less Bell To Answer,” “Love’s Lines, Angels and Rhymes,” “The Me Nobody Knows” and “You Don’t Have To Be A Star”–this song is very special to me. I have this record where they are singing in Japanese on Side B. I brought it to Los Angeles this past July and showed it to Marilyn and Billy after their concert.  Marilyn sang it for me in Japanese…I was so impressed and was almost crying!!
Hiromi Hirahata's photo.

Robert-Allan ArnoI’m gonna put my “five cents” in for this one, too. The overwhelming response to our YouTube production of “I’m On Your Side” (Theme from “Chapter Two”) puts that on my list as well as a beguiling song from the recent “MarBill Live” double-CD, Marilyn’s interpretation of another movie theme song, “Why Should I Care”–it’s quintessential McCoo! “O Holy Night” from the Christmas album is only surpassed today by Marilyn’s in-concert performances of it. From the earlier sessions, besides the hits everyone’s astutely noted, I agree, there’s that “big sigh” gem “Open Your Window.” Lastly, Marilyn gave me the intriguing name of the solo that Don Davis produced for her before they went with the MarBill duet concept—“Time is a Restless Old Man.” She said, “It could have been a hit!”  I hope to locate it and have it released from the vaults one day in the near future for something like “Ultimate Marilyn.”
Paul CorleyHappy Birthday, Marilyn! It is so hard to choose five favorite songs (even ten favorites would have been difficult!), but I must include, “Warrior for the Lord”, “If I Could Reach You”, “Saving All My Love for You”, “One Less Bell to Answer”, and “Wedding Bell Blues.” (Honorable mention: “Flashback”)

Michael John KitnerHappy Birthday Marilyn!  Here’s some artwork I did with my choices–“Open Your Window,” “One Less Bell,” “House for Sale,” “If I Could Reach You,” “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep”…
Michael John Kitner's photo.
A Dozen Special Links–enjoy these “Ultimate Marilyn” rarities:

“I’m On Your Side” (Theme From “Chapter Two”):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiv6zYgyS-8

“Loneliness” (with Paul Williams):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP4HrJmkPNc

“Heart Stop Beating In Time”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZejisCTY-4

“I Dreamed a Dream”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHUjTeAtGoA

“Always on My Mind”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUTc9I8SRGA

“One Less Bell to Answer” (Live):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9qsjobEHvw

“If I Could Reach You” (Live): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RC3PKl9_FA

“For Your Eyes Only”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lyae_dG0OH8

Songs of inspiration…
“My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8w-2skZp-Q
“The Me Nobody Knows”:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM1r9mJL4jo

StarMcCoo-and-Davis-hugging-from-The-Brokaw-Co_WEBTouring to the best reviews of their 7-time Grammy-winning legendary careers, visit Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. for their latest concert schedule, to shop and much more at:  www.mccoodavis.com or check out their Official Facebook page!

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Robert-Allan Arno with Marilyn McCoo

(Forever 5th Dimension by Robert-Allan Arno is a production of The Soul of The Voice, Ltd., copyright 2008-2016, intellectual property, all rights reserved)

Sept 17: It’s LaMonte Day!

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Dateline Sept 17:  Today is “LaMonte McLemore Day!” as we celebrate the birthday of a great man– the founder & legendary mellow bass of the multi-Grammy winning The 5th Dimension, world-famous photographer, inspirational author & humorist…and so much more. As Mac’s biographer, I’m toasting a man whose creative vision & caring friendship is an indelibly fortunate part of my life. Please join me in honoring LaMonte with your own wishes, special memories and/or sweet stories here, at his Twitter or Linked-In, and especially on his lively Facebook page! “From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension”…to many more magical journeys– we love ya, LaMonte, God bless! —Robert-Allan Arno
#LaMonteMcLemoreDay

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Mac Links!:

book coverGet the exciting (2nd edition) hit memoir, by McLemore & Arno, FROM HOBO FLATS to THE 5TH DIMENSION, recommended by McCoo/Davis, Sedaka, Mathis and Nancy Sinatra at: https://www.amazon.com/Hobo-Flats-5th-Dimension-Photography/dp/0692307362?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

TV Awesomeness! View LaMonte with host Kelly Wright on the “Beyond the Dream” series:  http://video.foxnews.com/v/5065597260001/beyond-the-dream-lamonte-mclemores-life-journey/?#sp=show-clips

Enjoy this mega-fan fave, penned by LaMonte, from the seminal PORTRAIT album:  “Wanting to be together, yet wanting to be free,” it’s A LOVE LIKE OURS at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsnZ6GC9dh8

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The Original 5th Dimension, 1969, Vogue Magazine

(Forever 5th Dimension by Robert-Allan Arno, copyright 2008-2016 is a production of The Soul of the Voice, Ltd., all rights reserved)

Happy 47th, Marilyn & Billy–Sweethearts of Pop n’ Soul

new marbill don' likeFOREVER 5th DIMENSION is so pleased to celebrate the 47th wedding anniversary of Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr., those forever fresh “sweethearts of Pop n’ Soul.”  Touring to the best reviews of their career with both sizzling concert evenings and special Broadway-like “Up-Up and Away–a musical fable” extravaganzas, these 7-time Grammy winners are timeless treasures in our lives.  How do we count the ways?  How about a retrospective featuring our recent favorite interview with the dynamic duo and links to some FOREVER 5th DIMENSION duet rarities from our popular YouTube channel…plus select fan greetings AND a gracious note from “MarBill,” themselves. Oh, and exclusive on-stage photos from Theater at Westbury this past June!  Join us, as we honor Marilyn and Billy…and all the love, harmony, and artistic excellence they stand for.  —Robert-Allan Arno

Singing in the Light CollageFave Q & A:
Among the many interviews we’ve done over the years, this is a true fan-fave. The engaging duo joined me here at FOREVER 5th a year ago to have some “coffee talk” as we laughed, cried and shared some pretty unique thoughts on the music, the magic and even had a mini Master Class. Read “Marilyn & Billy: Singing in the Light” at:  https://forever5thdimension.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/marilyn-billy-singing-in-the-light/

 

Take a MarBill Listen:

Researching“You Make Me Feel Brand New”–With over 135 THOUSAND views, this has become a bona fide YouTube hit, from the duo’s recent THE MANY FACES OF LOVE project.  We proudly note, our FOREVER 5th production of the tune was chosen to play on-screen in introducing Marilyn & Billy as they accepted the prestigious Gordon Parks award.  Link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5wCOLnn0F8

marilyn-mccoo“I Hope We Get to Love in Time, Live”–Ultra-rare, we remastered this from the beloved “Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. Show.” The first African-American married couple to have their own variety series, this “live” version of the title tune from Marilyn & Billy’s first duet album is adored by fans, courtesy of JuneBug Productions.  And there’s a bonus…wait to the end and hear the show’s closing tune, “The Two of Us” (and try not to shed a sentimental tear!)  Link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Cp2TTx4wo4

Soul Soul Soul“Soul and Inspiration, Un-vaulted”–As lead singers of The Original 5th Dimension, by ’74 producer Bones Howe wanted to open the album of the same title not only with a Marilyn & Billy duet, but with a retro feel. The actual disc featured a different mix and solely Billy doing the “recitation”…we got the OK to release from the vaults a taste of the original…more horns, and more so, Marilyn complimenting Billy, beautifully in her spoken word response.  Approved by “MarBill” themselves, we’ll call this a gem!  Link:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-vRlvNUPzY

marBill 2“Praise Ye The Lord”–From Billy’s Gospel project, re-issued as “The Love of God,” Marilyn is “special guest” on a song that the duo performed for Pope John Paul II.  This inspirational recording has become an Easter perennial for fans, yet is a faith-based song for all seasons.  Link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTRtdfjm4ng

RARE MARBILL ARMS“I’m So Glad I Found You”–Part Motown homage a la Marvin & Tammi, part Jazzy note-bending call & response with a tip of the hat to Marilyn’s roots with the Hi-Fi’s and Billy’s on the early eclectic club scene.  “I’m So Glad…” had previously only appeared as a flip-side to the single “I Hope We Get to Love In Time,” circa ’76 and resurfaced as a bonus to the expanded re-issue of Marilyn & Billy’s second duet album, “The Two of Us.”  By fan request, we produced this “goodie” for FOREVER 5th.  Link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q5iBOCsDg4

Here’s a montage…
of extraordinary on-stage shots…we were in the front row of Theater at Westbury to cheer on MarBill’s “Up-Up and Away–a musical fable” tour, something that should be destined for Broadway, itself.  My guest, “Pastor Martha” took these in June, we saved them just for you, the fans, for this anniversary edition, so enjoy!  And for our FOREVER 5th DIMENSION review of the show (“Marilyn & Billy Bring An Irresistible Musical Fable”), now also featured at www.mccoodavis.com, go here:  https://forever5thdimension.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/marilyn-billy-bring-an-irresistible-musical-fable/
Here’s an array of greetings from special fans, friends & media pros, not only celebrating MarBill’s anniversary but noting some favorite tunes, especially from their seminal first duet recording–the “I Hope We Get to Love in Time” album:

John Van Camp Congratulations Marilyn and Billy! We’ll give you a shout-out Tuesday morning on BossBossRadio.com on the morning show between 6 & 9 am, PDT.

Dale Kocik Happy Anniversary and thanks for sharing your talent and kindness with the world.  Love them all but if I absolutely had to pick a favorite it would be “Together Lets Find Love,”…and “Every Night.”  I had to throw a second favorite in there!

 William Q. Singleton (aka Bill Quinn, Metromedia Radio) Marilyn and Billy, congratulations on 47 years of wedded bliss, and thank you for your amazing gift of music to the world!

Susie Paige Sending Philly love your way

Susie Paige's photo.

Susan Aglio Happy Anniversary, Marilyn and Billy!! Blessings to both of you!
Hiromi Hirahata Congratulations to the most beautiful couple! I wish you two have a wonderful anniversary and many more happy years together.

Jim Handakas Your abiding respect and love for each other transcends your beautiful music. Thank you for sharing so freely with so many of us. It’s been a joyous ride.

Robyn Pippins Dear Marilyn & Billy, I want to wish you a Happy 47th Anniversary. I love your singing, but what I love most about you, is the love and respect you have for each other.  David Roberson Happy anniversary, Marilyn and Billy! Best wishes for many more.

Estes John Happy Anniversary to our beloved musical couple, still going strong after all of these years. I love almost every track on this (your first duet) album but my all time favorite is the hit and Grammy winner “You Don’t Have To Be A Star” and “My Love For You…”
Alain Baptiste My wife and I loved Marilyn and Billy as teens and of course still do, their book is on our “best shelf” and LaMonte McLemore‘s memoir, as well! The song NOTHING CAN STOP ME is too beautiful for words. Happy Anniversary and God bless from Mariette and Alain
Janice Berte Happy Anniversary Billy and Marilyn. You both are INCREDIBLE!
Deniserose Torres God has blessed us with your music, may He continue to bless you with love and happiness. Happy Anniversary.  My favorites (from your first duet album) – “Never Gonna Let You Go, ” “My Love for You (Will Always be the Same),” “You Can’t Change My Heart,” and of course, “You Don’t Have to be a Star.”
Marilyn+McCoo+Billy+Davis+Jr+Wildlife+WayStation+SIoD42FOyjOxJohn Howton Congrats to Marilyn & Billy. And thank you for your timeless music & for being such a “class act” always! As a matter of fact, I was hiking today & listening to my tunes & had my tunes on “shuffle” when all of a sudden “Black Patch” came on!! I must have replayed it no less than 5 times – in AWE of those GORGEOUS harmonies!!! Luv u two!
Paul Corley Congratulations on your 47th anniversary, Marilyn and Billy! From your first duet with The Versatiles, “Bye, Bye Baby,” to your current “Up, Up, and Away–a musical fable” tour, you have generously shared your love and talent with rest of the world. Thank you for your grace and style, and for the joy that you have given to your numerous fans.
Martha E. Vink Happy Anniversary, Marilyn and Billy! Your love and faith shine from you, and you inspire us all. May God continue to bless you with love and laughter, and bless us with YOU, for years and years to come!
Renee T Armstead Hi Marilyn and Billy: Happy 47th wedding anniversary! You are a wonderful example for the institution of marriage. May you share many more years together. Love to you both.
Andy Gard Beyond your obvious musical gifts, you two are a (well-matched) pair of quality human beings, and the comments on here speak to that. Wishing you many more years of love and happiness.
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Dreams Come True
A Commentary by Robert-Allan Arno
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Marilyn and Billy have supported the FOREVER 5th DIMENSION blog since its inception–when they literally encouraged my developing the concept, 8 years ago…yes, it’s our anniversary, too!  They’ve not only read each edition with relish, watched the YouTubes and given kudos, but on a personal level, they’ve watched out for my “other career” in acting, and voice-acting.  They’ve tuned in to every appearance I’ve made on national TV as a Bible reader on THE SUNDAY MASS broadcast, and so much more.  And LaMonte McLemore and I can never, ever forget their special attendance at our Las Vegas book launch of Mac’s memoir, something I had the honor to co-write, FROM HOBO FLATS TO THE 5th DIMENSION.

MCCOO DAVIS ARNO BLACK WHITE

As a kid growing up on Long Island, learning “The Declaration (of Independence)” with the rest of you based on The 5th Dimension’s recording, Marilyn, Billy, Florence, LaMonte and the beloved Ron were cool n’ classy heroes that represented a brighter day.  They were proof positive that talent and a work ethic could create beauty and unity. They were the catalyst for dreams that could come true. And this blog and their loyalty and encouragement is in many ways, part of their earliest promise, made in the lyrics of Jimmy Webb’s “Up-Up and Away”: “If you hold my hand, we’ll chase your dream across the sky…for we can fly.”  And did we fly!!  Here’s to more, wherever that beautiful balloon takes us, in God’s time and eternal wisdom. 

Happy 47th Anniversary Marilyn & Billy, with much Love,

Robert

A Letter from Marilyn & Billy, July 2016

Dear Robert,

We want to thank you for all of the wonderful work you do on the Forever 5th Blog.  What a beautiful retrospective of our lives!  It’s so full of our memories and experiences, and you’ve laid it out in such a riveting way that certainly holds one’s attention.   There are unexpected moments, intermingled with special events that forever stand out in our minds.  You’ve found photos that we haven’t seen in years, many we’ve forgotten we’d taken, special times when the group enjoyed private laughs (and Lamonte’s jokes!) about what was happening at that very moment.  How you’ve found those photos and instinctively know their importance continues to amaze us.  The blog is a special revisiting of our lives, our appearances and interviews, our accomplishments.

Black White Columbus Day

Thank you again for the time, thought and energy you put into the chronicling of Florence’s, Lamonte’s, Ronald’s and our lives.  We don’t know how many times, or in how many ways, we can tell you what a blessing you are!  We continue to watch what you’re doing and the goals you’re striving toward so we can give you the encouragement and support you constantly give us.

With our love and appreciation always,

Billy & Marilyn

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Visit Marilyn & Billy at  www.mccoodavis.com or at their official Facebook page

Special thanks to Martha Vink, for photos from her exclusive collection

Many thanks to the fans for your comments & enthusiasm, and to Sterling/Winters–Kathy and  Steve–and to Randall, LaMonte and Florence, always.

(Forever 5th Dimension, a production of The Soul of the Voice, Ltd., all rights reserved, copyright 2008-16, Robert-Allan Arno)

Marilyn & Billy Bring An Irresistible Musical Fable

Unforgettable two Gen Bob Photog

Review–Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. in “Up, Up and Away, a Musical Fable,” Theater at Westbury, Long Island, June 9, 2016

by Robert-Allan Arno

This is the type of “review” which can be deemed as subjective and objective.  Not only am I the biographer of The Original 5th Dimension and its founder, LaMonte McLemore, but the Theater at Westbury, once known as Westbury Music Fair, was sacred home for the many times I had seen the original quintet perform while I grew up on Long Island. And so as the evening’s overture played, I sighed, “Now, this is full-circle!” then wondered quickly, “Has the beautiful balloon finally landed?” About the latter, no possible way.  If anything, it soars higher than ever. Marilyn McCoo remains as gorgeous as her legendary octaves do; Billy Davis, Jr. is our true Gentleman of Soul.  Their Broadway-like presentation, “Up, Up and Away, A Musical Fable” (which I keep accidentally calling “a musical fantasy!”) is a revelation even for someone like myself.  And by the way, “fantasy” fits this bill–you have to keep pinching yourself that what you’re seeing and hearing is a reality. That McCoo-Davis individually collective sound, the moves, the back-up singers, the top-flight band (led by Darrell Alston) are all so exquisitely pristine yet astute that we get to see the movies of our minds…live!  unforgettable nine gen bob

From the first strains of their signature “Up-Up and Away” to the last of “Let the Sunshine In” and its “Aquarius” mash-up mate, we’re taken on one heart-tugging, joyful and exhilarating ride.  Marilyn and Billy commence with a “Where or When” sampler through everything from Billy’s Blues roots, Marilyn’s torch inclinations, “Solid Gold” days, “Showboat” and “Dreamgirls,” in a way that’s seamlessly autobiographical.  It’s clear that both McCoo and Davis were virtual child prodigies who made their dreams including Broadway stints and TV series, come true.  “You Don’t Have to be a Star,” baby, but MarBill make us feel like special revelers invited to their party as they keep intensifying their show, bringing us in with their scripted and seemingly off-the-cuff patter.  The hits just keep coming, and many in the audience were singing along, hooting n’ hollering, and getting down with “Stoned Soul/Sweet Blindness” unadulterated fun, “Last Night I Didn’t Get to Sleep” smooth grooves, “Wedding Bell Blues” flirty moves, and “Save the Country” verve.

Unforgettable three Gen Bob

How can Marilyn’s “Never My Love” surpass that famed moment from “The 5th Dimension–Live” album?  She made it happen and it stopped the show with a protracted standing O.  How can Billy’s “The Worst that Could Happen” redefine what was already so full-throttle?  He sure did, stopping the show again with another grand ovation. And then there’s “MacArthur Park.” As we immediately recall the beloved Ron Townson’s in-concert lead, Billy graciously does so too, singing in his deeper tones, diction emphatic…we behold the measure of a man who gives homage by inhabiting a song, finding its richest subtext.  Of course, so does La McCoo who offers the Jimmy Webb masterpiece her intricately syncopated back-ups in solidarity, along with three talented singers (Cydney Davis, Cynthia Bass and choreographer as well, Andre Carthen).  Breathtaking is their take on the cake…in the rain, as a “fade to black” gives us a chance to catch our breath during intermission.

Unforgettable Seven Gen Bob

A Beatles medley opens the second act with so many twists and turns to “musically stretch out,” I will leave it as a surprise when you get to see this production.  And speaking of “The Fab 4,” did you know The 5th Dimension was sometimes known as “The Black Beatles?”  According to group founder McLemore, “Like the Beatles, all our fans–regardless of race–knew both the first and last names of each of the original members of The 5th Dimension.”  Furthermore, this McCoo-Davis 2016 retrospective on “The Fab 5,” in no way diminishes Ms. LaRue and The current 5th Dimension, for Florence as well as LaMonte and Ron are mentioned warmly and seen on-screen via select photos, throughout the show.  Indeed, The 5th Dimension remains family. It should be noted that Ms. McCoo, Mr. Davis and their seminal quintet became leading pop cultural figures by example. As such, their harmonious sound and image united diverse people during the turbulent times of the late ’60’s and early ’70’s.  Just like The Mills Brothers, Lena Horne, Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis before them, they did it with class yet were in a class by themselves.  And when The 5th had to make a stand-out political point, they did it with the same spirit of finesse we always expected. Case in point, The Independence Medley from the historic “Portrait” album. Guess what?  Marilyn and Billy re-purpose it today, in a way that gives thought to our country’s still-troubling Civil Rights condition and revisits their own recorded glory.

Marilyn Unforgettable

Ms. McCoo sings “Blackbird” (photo courtesy Miguel de Leon)

When Ms. McCoo steps forward to emote “Blackbird,” it seems no longer part of the aforementioned Beatles medley, in fact, once she concludes, it becomes indelible as a prelude to the “on the record” Independence Medley.  Moreover, Marilyn makes “Blackbird” a soulmate to Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.”  Just thinking of McCoo’s watershed interpretation brings tears as it did to many in attendance.  Then there’s the familiar “The Declaration,” a tune so many school children utilized to learn the “We hold these truths…that all men are created equal” words to such a revolutionary document.  While unfolding, I began experiencing it as foreshadowing Broadway’s current hit “Hamilton”–yes, it’s 5th scholarship at its most hip, as well as the perfect lead-in to Billy’s tour-de-force: “A Change is Gonna Come.” 

Unforgettable 4 Gen Bob

Here Davis takes us to church as we are powerfully yet poignantly reminded of struggles, losses, gains and the renewing promise of eternal hope.  We soon thank God for “People Gotta Be Free” as we clap with Marilyn, Billy and singers in cathartic jubilation…what artistic transference! 

Unforgettable Six Gen BobNext, Marilyn’s solo signature, “One Less Bell to Answer” becomes a diva aria of Pop-Jazz that raises the roof as only an angel of song can.  By the show’s conclusion, we see “The Way We Were” with newfound gratitude, for Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.–soon to celebrate a 47th wedding anniversary–have brought us our “fountain of youth” while sharing their very own, timeless musical fable.

WESTBURY Davis, Arno, McCoo

Billy Davis, Jr., Robert-Allan Arno, Marilyn McCoo

Visit http://www.mccoodavis.com or the Official Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. page on FB

Primary Photo Credit and Very Special Thanks to: (C) 2016 Bob Felderman, General Bob Photography

Please “Like” General Bob Photography on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GeneralBobPhotography/ or visit Bob’s website: http://www.GeneralBobPhotography.com

“Marilyn & Billy…an Irresistible Musical Fable,” copyright 2016 by Robert-Allan Arno for FOREVER 5th DIMENSION, a production of The Soul of the Voice, Ltd.