Tag Archives: The 5th Dimension

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pac HARRY

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

pacific ireland done

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

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

PIONEER COLLAGE TWO

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

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

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

Pacific Steve Retouch

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

Visit Marilyn & Billy at their Official Facebook page,

on Twitter @mccoodavis

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

Special Thanks to Steve Rosenblum, Sterling/Winters,

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

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

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

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

A Forever 5th Dimension Exclusive by Robert-Allan Arno

CARNEGIE COLLAGE


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

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

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

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

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

LIZ CALLAWAY

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

James Gavin

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

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

JUMPSUIT

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

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

CARNEGIE THREESOME DONE

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

 Very special thanks to Steve Rosenblum, Sterling/Winters,

and Marilyn & Billy

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

JIMMY MARBILL

Courtesy Jimmy Webb Facebook page

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

Celebrating a Legacy

Honoring Black History Month ’17–

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

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

arnie

florence-fringe-now

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

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

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

floyd

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

book cover

Memoir Available on Amazon*

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

J100

Available at CD Baby:

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

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

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

Essential Links:

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

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

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

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

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

mac and mccoo

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

 

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

Happy Birthday to the Delightful Florence LaRue

flor-village

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

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

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

–Robert-Allan Arno

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

“Sweet Memories of Sweets”

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

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

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

Robert-Allan Arno,

Biographer–The Original 5th Dimension

Autograph Offer: The 5th Dimension–The Complete Soul City/Bell Singles 3CD Set

complete-singlesBreaking News:  The 5th Dimension–The Complete Soul City/Bell Singles 3CD Set!

In celebration of The 5th Dimension legacy’s 50 year anniversary, REAL GONE MUSIC proudly presents the most comprehensive 5th Dimension collection ever assembled!  And here’s a special autograph offer*…

autographsAll four living members (Florence LaRue, Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis, Jr.  and LaMonte McLemore) of The 5th Dimension have signed 28 copies of this set. REAL GONE MUSIC is going to take orders until 12:00 pm PST this Monday December 19, 2016 and then select the winners randomly. If you do not receive an autographed version you will get a $5 coupon good for your next order from Real Gone Music!

*PRE-ORDER NOW AT THIS LINK: 

http://shop.realgonemusic.com/collections/upcoming/products/the-5th-dimension-the-complete-soul-city-bell-singles-3cd-set

About “The Complete Soul City/Bell Singles”:

  • Back in 1966, Florence LaRue, Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis, Jr., LaMonte McLemore, and Ron Townson Began Making Beautiful Music Together, and Pop-Soul Music Has Never Been the Same
  • The Complete Soul City/Bell Singles 1966-1975 Presents All the Singles the Group Recorded for the Soul City and Bell Labels, Plus Their First Single (as The Versatiles) for the Bronco Label and Their Lone Single Release for Arista
  • Three Compact Discs and 61 Tracks of Swinging, Soulful Harmonies, Brilliant Arrangements, Groundbreaking Production, and Some of the Best Songwriting to Come Out of the ‘60s and ‘70s
  • Includes 30 Pop and 15 R&B Hits, All in Their Hard-to-Find Mono Single Mixes Including Some Rare Non-LP Sides and Single Edits
  • Features Such Legendary Recordings as “Up—Up and Away,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “One Less Bell to Answer,” “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All,” and “If I Could Reach You”
  • Features Production by the Great Bones Howe, Vocal Arrangements by Industry Legend Bob Alcivar, and Instrumental Accompaniment by the Famed Wrecking Crew
  • Includes the Songs (e.g. “Up—Up and Away,” “Stoned Soul Picnic”) That Brought the Songwriting Brilliance of Jimmy Webb and Laura Nyro to the Masses
  • Exquisitely Remastered by Mark Wilder at Battery Studios
  • Exclusive Liner Quotes from Florence LaRue, Billy Davis, Jr., Marilyn McCoo, LaMonte McLemore
  • Housed Inside a Beautiful 8-Panel Digipak Festooned with Rare Photos
  • The Summit of Sunshine Pop-Soul!

This Collection features these songs: 

Disc : 1
1. You’re Good Enough for Me
2. Bye Bye Baby
3. I’ll Be Lovin’ You Forever
4. Train Keep On Movin’
5. Go Where You Wanna Go
6. Too Poor to Die
7. Another Day, Another Heartache
8. Rosecrans Blvd.
9. Up Up & Away
10. Which Way to Nowhere
11. Paper Cup
12. Poor Side of Town
13. Carpet Man
14. The Magic Garden
15. Stoned Soul Picnic
16. The Sailboat Song
17. Sweet Blindness
18. Bobbie’s Blues (Who Do You Think Of?)
19. California Soul
20. It’ll Never Be the Same Again

Disc : 2
1. Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In (The Flesh Failures)
2. Don’t Cha Hear Me Callin’ to Ya
3. Workin’ on a Groovy Thing
4. Broken Wing Bird
5. Wedding Bell Blues
6. Lovin’ Stew
7. Blowing Away
8. Skinny Man
9. The Declaration
10. A Change Is Gonna Come/People Gotta Be Free
11. The Girls’ Song
12. Puppet Man
13. A Love Like Ours
14. Save the Country
15. Dimension 5ive
16. On the Beach (In the Summertime)
17. This Is Your Life
18. One Less Bell to Answer
19. Feelin’ Alright?
20. Love’s Lines Angles & Rhymes
21. The Singer

Disc : 3
1. Light Sings
2. Viva Tirado
3. Never My Love
4. Together Let’s Find Love
5. I Just Wanna Be Your Friend
6. (Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All
7. The River Witch
8. If I Could Reach You

9. Tomorrow Belongs to the Children
10. Living Together Growing Together
11. What Do I Need to Be Me
12. Everything’s Been Changed
13. There Never Was a Day
14. Ashes to Ashes
15. Flashback
16. Diggin’ for a Livin’
17. Harlem
18. My Song
19. No Love in the Room
20. I Don’t Know How to Look for Love

Special thanks to Gordon Anderson, president of Real Gone. 

Please note:  FOREVER 5th DIMENSION will have an exclusive Q & A with Gordon, coming soon, this holiday season!

–Robert-Allan Arno

(Forever 5th Dimension, A production of The Soul of the Voice, Ltd., all rights reserved, copyright ’08-2016)

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

J100

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