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|The 5th Dimension|
The 5th Dimension in 1969.
Back row: Townson and McLemore.
Front row: LaRue, Davis, and McCoo.
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Genres||R&B, pop, soul, sunshine pop|
(until 1975 in original incarnation)
|Labels||Soul City, Imperial, Bell Records, Arista, ABC Records, Motown|
Billy Davis, Jr.
See: Membership section for detailed listing
Originally known as The Hi-Fi's, the group changed its name to The 5th Dimension in late 1966 and was best-known during the late 1960s and early 1970s for popularizing the hits "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 The Magic Garden LP.
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 City label, which was started by Imperial Records/United Artists Records recording artist Johnny Rivers. The group would later record for Bell/Arista Records, ABC Records, and Motown Records.
Some of the songwriters popularized by The 5th Dimension 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 Nyro than Nyro did herself, particularly with "Stoned Soul Picnic", "Sweet Blindness", "Wedding Bell Blues", "Blowin' Away", 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 and the songs and music of Jimmy Webb, who penned their hit "Up, Up and Away", including an entire recording of Webb songs called The Magic Garden.
In the early 1960s, Lamonte McLemore and Marilyn McCoo, a former beauty pageant winner, got together with two other friends from Los Angeles, Harry Elston and Floyd Butler, to 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 Dandridge and 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.
Lamonte's cousin, 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.
In 1965 The Mamas & the Papas' first single, "Go Where You Wanna Go", failed to open the foursome's chart career. Undaunted, The 5th Dimension covered the same song virtually note-for-note (except for the last verse's upward modulation), and in early 1967 their version climbed into the top 20 on both R&B and pop stations and peaked at #16 on the Hot 100, opening the fivesome's chart career.
Budding young songwriter Jimmy Webb supplied the group with their breakthrough hit, "Up, Up and Away", a mid-1967 #7 hit that won five Grammy Awards. The following year, the group scored major hit singles with "Stoned Soul Picnic" (U.S. #3) and "Sweet Blindness" (U.S. #13) and received a gold record for their album Stoned Soul Picnic. That album also included "California Soul", which peaked at #25 in February 1969. Weeks later the group's success broke wide open, with "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" from the musical Hair topping the Hot 100 in April and May and "Wedding Bell Blues" doing so in November, with a U.S. #20 cover of Neil Sedaka's "Workin' On A Groovy Thing" in-between. Those four singles kept the group on the Hot 100 all but four weeks in 1969.
Later top 20 hits included "One Less Bell to Answer" (U.S. #2) (1970), "Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes" (U.S. #19) and "Never My Love" (U.S. #12) (1971), "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep at All" (U.S. #8) and "If I Could Reach You" (U.S. #10) (1972). The group also had seven other top 40 hits, the last being "Living Together, Growing Together" (U.S. #32) (1973) from the film Lost Horizon.
The 5th Dimension performed "Sweet Blindness" on Frank Sinatra's 1968 TV special Sinatra Does His Thing and sang "Workin' On A Groovy Thing" and "Wedding Bell Blues" on Woody Allen's The Woody Allen Special in 1969. They introduced "Puppet Man" as guests in the "It Takes a Thief" episode "To Sing a Song of Murder" in 1970.
In 1975, McCoo and Davis, who had married on 26 July 1969, left the group to do both collective and individual projects. They went on to have success as a duo with "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, Motown issued Diana Ross' original version shortly after the 5th Dimension's hit the charts, and hers soared to the top of the charts. The group signed with Motown not long after, releasing two albums in 1978. R&B singer Lou Courtney was in the group briefly in 1978 and 1979, Joyce Wright joined in 1979, and Phyllis Battle joined in 1988.
The original quintet reunited in 1990 and 1991 for a tour. Townson briefly left the group to try a solo career, but soon returned, as the group eventually resigned itself to the nostalgia circuit. In 1995, the quintet of LaRue, Townson, McLemore, Battle, and Greg Walker recorded 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.
McCoo and Davis continue to tour separately as their own act. As of April 2009[update], the group is actively touring as "Florence LaRue & The 5th Dimension", led by LaRue with Willie Williams, Leonard Tucker, Patrice Morris, and Floyd Smith.
In October 2011 McCoo and Davis featured on the Cliff Richard album Soulicious, also appearing live on stage in the tour of the same name, reprising several of their hits as well as dueting with Sir Cliff.
McCoo and Davis left the group in November 1975. Since then, other members have included:
|Original lineup||Florence LaRue||Marilyn McCoo||Billy Davis, Jr.||LaMonte McLemore||Ron Townson|
|1966-75||Florence LaRue||Marilyn McCoo||Billy Davis, Jr.||LaMonte McLemore||Ron Townson|
|1975||Eloise Laws||Danny Beard|
|1978-79||Lou Courtney||Mic Bell|
Joyce Wright Pierce
|1980-86||Joyce Wright Pierce||(vacant)|
|1987||Joyce Wright Pierce|
|1989-92||Eugene Barry Hill|
|2006-07||Valerie Davis||Leonard Tucker||Michael Mishaw|
|2007||Jennifer Lee Warren/
|Year||Song||US||US AC||US R&B||CAN||UK||B-side||Album|
|1966||"Go Where You Wanna Go"||16||-||-||9||-||"Too Poor to Die"||Up, Up and Away|
|1967||"Another Day, Another Heartache"||45||-||-||-||-||"Rosecrans Blvd."|
|"Up, Up and Away"||7||9||-||18||-||"Which Way to Nowhere"|
|"Paper Cup"||34||-||-||17||-||"Poor Side of Town"||The Magic Garden|
|1968||"Carpet Man"||29||-||-||3||-||"The Magic Garden"|
|"Stoned Soul Picnic"||3||-||2||5||-||"The Sailboat Song"||Stoned Soul Picnic|
|"Sweet Blindness"||13||-||45||15||-||"Bobbie's Blues (Who Do You Think Of?)"|
|"California Soul"||25||-||49||-||-||"It'll Never Be the Same Again"|
|1969||"Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In"||1||1||6||1||11||"Don'tcha Hear Me Callin' to Ya?"||The Age of Aquarius|
|"Workin' On a Groovy Thing"||20||9||15||17||-||"Broken Wing Bird"|
|"Wedding Bell Blues"||1||1||23||3||16||"Lovin' Stew"|
|"Blowing Away"||21||7||-||24||-||"Skinny Man"|
|1970||"A Change Is Gonna Come/People Got to Be Free"||60||-||-||-||-||"The Declaration"||Portrait|
|"The Declaration"||64||35||-||-||-||B-side of above|
|"The Girls' Song"||43||6||-||-||-||"It'll Never Be the Same Again"||The Magic Garden|
|"Puppet Man"||24||31||-||-||-||"A Love Like Ours"||Portrait|
|"Save the Country"||27||10||-||24||-||"Dimension 5"|
|"On the Beach (In the Summertime)"||54||12||-||-||-||"This Is Your Life"|
|"One Less Bell to Answer"||2||1||4||3||-||"Feelin' Alright?"||Portrait|
|1971||"Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes"||19||6||-||28||-||"The Singer"||Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes|
|"Light Sings"||44||12||-||-||-||"Viva! (Viva Tirado)"|
|"Never My Love" (live)||12||1||45||21||-||"A Love Like Ours"||Live!!|
|"Together Let's Find Love" (live)||37||8||22||-||-||"I Just Wanta Be Your Friend"|
|1972||"(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep at All"||8||2||28||5||-||"The River Witch"||Individually & Collectively|
|"If I Could Reach You"||10||1||-||13||-||"Tomorrow Belongs to the Children"|
|1973||"Living Together, Growing Together"||32||5||-||-||-||"What Do I Need to Be Me"||Living Together, Growing Together|
|"Everything's Been Changed"||70||18||-||-||-||"There Never Was a Day"|
|"Ashes to Ashes"||52||7||54||-||-||"The Singer"|
|"Flashback"||82||30||75||-||-||"Diggin' for a Livin'"|
|1975||"No Love In the Room"||105||11||-||-||-||"I Don't Know How to Look for Love"||Soul & Inspiration|
|1976||"Love Hangover"||80||-||39||-||-||"Will You Be There"|
|Book: The 5th Dimension|
|Wikipedia books are collections of articles that can be downloaded or ordered in print.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: The 5th Dimension|