- The Fifth Dimension
Infobox musical artist 2
Name = The Fifth Dimension
Background = group_or_band
Img_capt = The Fifth Dimension. Clockwise from top left: LaRue, McCoo, Townson, Davis, and McLemore.
Img_size = 150px
Los Angeles, California
R&B, pop, soul, Sunshine pop
Years_active = 1966 - present
(until 1975 in original incarnation)
Soul City, Imperial, Arista, Motown
Marilyn McCoo Billy Davis, Jr. Florence LaRue Lamonte McLemore Ron Townson
See: Membership section for detailed listing
The Fifth Dimension were best-known during the late 1960s and early 1970s for popularizing the hits "Up, Up and Away" and "
Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In."
The five original members were
Billy Davis, Jr., Florence LaRue, Marilyn McCoo, Lamonte McLemore, and Ron Townson. They have recorded for several different labels over their long careers. Their first work appeared on the Soul Citylabel, which was started by Imperial Records/ United Artists Recordsrecording artist Johnny Rivers. The group would later record for Bell/ Arista Records ABC Recordsand Motown Records.
Some of the songwriters popularized by The Fifth Dimension later went on to careers of their own, especially
Ashford & Simpson, who wrote " California Soul". The group is also notable for having more success with the songs of Laura Nyrothan Nyro did herself, particularly in the cases of " Wedding Bell Blues", "Stoned Soul Picnic", and "Save the Country". The group also covered music by well known songwriters such as the song " One Less Bell to Answer" written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
In the early 1960s,
Lamonte McLemoreand Marilyn McCoo, an ex-beauty pageant winner, got together with two other friends from Los Angeles, Harry Elstonand Floyd Butlerto form a group called the Hi-Fis. In 1963, they sang at local clubs while taking lessons from a vocal coach. In 1964, they came to the attention of Ray Charles, who took them on tour with him the following year. He produced a single by the group, "Lonesome Mood", a jazz-type song that gained local attention. However, internal disagreements caused Butler and Elston to go their own way, eventually leading to their organizing the Friends of Distinction.
Lamonte sought to form another group and started looking for members to join him and McCoo. One was
Florence LaRue, who had received training as a youngster in singing, dancing and violin, and who also won the talent portion, as McCoo had the year prior, at Miss Bronze California. About the same time she was approached to join the group, Lamonte recruited an old friend of his, Ron Townson, who at age six had started singing in choirs and gospel groups in his hometown of St. Louis. His grandmother fostered his career by arranging for private voice and acting lessons as he grew up. In his teens, he toured with Dorothy Dandridgeand Nat "King" Cole, joined the Wings Over Jordan Gospel Singers for a while, and also played a small part in the film Porgy and Bess. He demonstrated his considerable skill as a classical artist by placing third in the Metropolitan Opera auditions held in St. Louis. After finishing high school, he worked his way through Lincoln University by conducting the school and church choir. After graduating, he organized his own 25-member gospel choir.
Billy Davis Jr., started singing in gospel choirs at an early age. He later saved enough money to buy a cocktail lounge in St. Louis, which he used as a base for experimenting with various musical groups. When he was asked to join his cousin's new group, he immediately said yes.
The members began rehearsing in early 1966 and took the name of the Versatiles. They auditioned for
Marc Gordon, who headed Motown's Los Angeles office. Although their demo tape was rejected by Motown, he agreed to manage them and brought them to the attention of Johnny Rivers, who had just started his own label, Soul City Records. Their first Soul City single, "I'll Be Lovin' You Forever", was a flop, but a cover of the Mamas and the Papas' "Go Where You Wanna Go" climbed into the top 20 on both R & B and pop stations.
Budding young songwriter
Jimmy Webbsupplied the group with their breakthrough hit, "Up, Up and Away", a top 10 hit in mid-1967, which won five Grammy Awards. The following year, the group scored major hit singles with Laura Nyro's "Stoned Soul Picnic" (U.S. #3) and "Sweet Blindness" (U.S. #13) and received a gold record for their album "Stoned Soul Picnic", which also included the Ashford & Simpsonwritten " California Soul". In 1969, they had two number one singles: " Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" from the musical "Hair" and the Nyro composition "Wedding Bell Blues." Later hits included "One Less Bell to Answer" (U.S. #2) (1970), "Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes" (U.S. #19), "Never My Love" (U.S. #12) (1971), "If I Could Reach You" (U.S. #10), and "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep at All" (U.S. #8) (1972).
In 1975, McCoo and Davis, who married in 1969, left the group to do both collective and individual projects. They went on to have success singing as a duo after leaving the group in 1975, including "Your Love" and the
chart topper" You Don't Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)." McCoo also served a stint as the host of the TV show "Solid Gold". The remaining trio carried on with new members, and nearly had a hit in 1976 with the LaRue-sung " Love Hangover"; however, Motownissued Diana Ross' own version shortly after the Fifth Dimension's hit the charts, and hers soared to the top of the charts. Strangely enough, the group signed with Motown not long after, releasing two albums in 1978. R'n'B singer Lou Courtneywas in the group briefly between 1978 and 1979, Joyce Wright joined in 1979 and Phyllis Battlejoined in the mid-1980s. The original quintet reunited in 1990 for a tour. Townson briefly left the group to try a solo career, but soon returned, as the group resigned itself to the nostalgia circuit; In 1995, the quintet of LaRue, Townson, McLemore, Battle, and Greg Walkerrecorded a new album, "In the House", for Click Records. In 1998, Willie Williams replaced Townson, who died in 2001 due to diabetes-related kidney failure. Battle departed in 2002, to be replaced by Van Jewell. McLemore retired from the group in March 2006.
The group was inducted into the
Vocal Group Hall of Famein 2002.
Marilyn McCoo(born 30 September 1943, Jersey City, New Jersey)
* Florence LaRue (born
4 February 1944, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
*Billy Davis, Jr. (born
26 June 1940, St. Louis, Missouri)
*Lamonte McLemore (born
17 September 1939, St. Louis, Missouri [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1052890/bio] )
*Ronald L. "Ron" Townson (born
20 January 1933, St. Louis, Missouri - died 2 August 2001, of kidney failure, Las Vegas, Nevada)
McCoo and Davis left the group in November 1975. Since then, other members have included:
* Eloise Laws (Marilyn replacement) 1975-1975,
* Danny Beard (Billy replacement) 1975-1978,
* Marjorie Barnes (Marilyn replacement) 1976-1977,
* Terri Bryant (Marilyn replacement) 1978-1979,
* Mic Bell (Ron replacement) 1978-1979,
* Lou Courtney (Billy replacement) 1978-1979,
* Pat Bass (Marilyn replacement) 1979,
* Tanya Boyd (Marilyn replacement) 1979,
* Joyce Wright Pierce (Marilyn replacement) 1979-1986 and 1987,
* Michael Procter (Billy replacement) 1979-1988,
* Estrelita (Marilyn replacement) 1986,
* Phyllis Battle (Marilyn replacement) 1988-2001,
* Eugene Barry-Hill (Billy replacement) 1989-1992,
* Greg Walker (Billy replacement) 1993-2006,
* Willie Williams (Ron replacement) 1998-present,
* Van Jewell (Marilyn replacement) 2002,2005,
* Julie Delgado (Marilyn replacement) 2002-2005,
* Jamila Ajibade (Marilyn replacement) 2005-2006 and 2007-2008
* Leonard Tucker (Billy replacement) 2006-present,
* Valerie Davis (Marilyn replacement) 2006-2007,
* Jennifer Leigh Warren (Marilyn replacement) 2007,
* Gwyn Foxx (Marilyn replacement) December 2007,
* [http://www.rhapsody.com/michaelmishaw/thislife Michael Mishaw] (Lamonte replacement) 2006-present,
* Patrice Morris (Marilyn replacement) 2008-present
US charts are from
Billboard magazine. Canadian charts are taken from the weekly surveys of CHUM in Toronto.
*"Up, Up and Away" (1967) - US #8
The Magic Garden" (1967) - US #105
*"Stoned Soul Picnic" (1968) - US #21
*"The Age of Aquarius" (1969) - US #2
*"Portrait" (1970) - US #20
*"The 5th Dimension/Greatest Hits" (1970) - US #5
The July 5th Album" (1970) - US #63
Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes" (1971) - US #17
*"Reflections" (1971) - US #112
*"The 5th Dimension/Live!!" (1971) - US #32
*"Individually & Collectively" (1972) - US #58
*"Greatest Hits On Earth" (1972) - US #14
*"Living Together, Growing Together" (1973) - US #108
*"Soul & Inspiration" (1974)
*"Earthbound" (1975) - US #136
*"Star Dancing" (1978)
*"High On Sunshine" (1978)
*"The Very Best Of 5th Dimension" (1982)
*"In the House" (1995)
* The Fifth Dimension appeared as special guests in a third season episode of "It Takes a Thief", "To Sing a Song of Murder" (originally televised
February 23, 1970). In this episode, one of their songs, "One Less Bell To Answer", included a special chord that could trigger a bomb.
* Hip hop artist Kurious sampled the single "Stoned Soul Picnic" for his song "Nikole" on the 1994 album "A Constipated Monkey".
* The band is (possibly) namechecked in the episode "Parallel Universe" of the British
sitcom" Red Dwarf". On being told that the ship has been transported through the fifth dimension, Lister asks, "Didn't they get to number six with 'Baby I Want Your Love Thing'?" - though The Fifth Dimension never released a song with this title.
* The song "Wedding Bell Blues" was the title of and featured in the 100th episode of the "
Gilmore Girls" as Emily and Richard's second wedding song.
*The Mexican Folk artist David Tailford wrote the song titled 'The Happy Piñata' but was never released on any 5th Dimension albums due to Rights issues.
* The Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock & Soul ( Revised Edition ) - Irwin Stambler ©1989 St. Martin's Press, New York
* All Music Guide to Soul ( article by Steve Huey ) ©2003 Backbeat Books San Francisco
* Album Review of 'The Magic Garden': [http://rare-albums.com/albums.php?id=17]
* [http://www.vocalgroup.org/inductees/fifth_dimension.html 'The 5th Dimension' Vocal Group Hall of Fame Page]
* [http://www.wlatalent.com/roster/the_5th_dimension/artistprofile.htm The 5th Dimension] at [http://www.wlatalent.com Wenig-LaMonica Associates]
* [http://ubl.artistdirect.com/music/artist/card/0,,394958,00.html Ultimate Band List page]
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0173613 The 5th Dimension Traveling Sunshine Show (1971)]
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