Fifth Dimension, The

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Fifth Dimension, The

Fifth Dimension, The, one of the more popular black vocal groups of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Membership: Lamonte McLemore (b. St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 17, 1939); Marilyn McCoo (b. Jersey City, N.J., Sept. 30, 1943); Billy Davis Jr. (b. St. Louis, Mo., June 26, 1940); Florence LaRue (b. Philadelphia, Feb. 4, 1944); Ron Townson (b. St. Louis, Mo., Jan. 20, 1941).

Lamonte McLemore formed the vocal group The Hi-Fi’s in Los Angeles during the mid-1960s with Marilyn McCoo, Floyd Butler, and Harry Elston. They toured with the Ray Charles Revue for six months and when they broke up, two new groups were formed. Butler and Elston eventually formed The Friends of Distinction, who scored smash pop and rhythm-and-blues hits with a vocal version of Hugh Masakela’s “Grazing in the Grass” and “Love or Let Me Be Lonely/7 in 1969 and 1970, respectively. McLemore and McCoo formed The Versatiles with Florence LaRue, Ron Townson, and McLemore’s cousin, Billy Davis Jr. Davis had formed his first group while still in high school and later served with The Emeralds and The St. Louis Gospel Singers. Signed to Johnny Rivers’s Soul City Records in 1966, they soon changed their name to The Fifth Dimension.

The Fifth Dimension’s debut album yielded a major pop hit with John Phillips’s “Go Where You Wanna Go” and a near-smash with Jimmy Webb’s “Up, Up and Away,” a tame recording somehow identified with psychedelic music. Their second album consisted almost entirely of Jimmy Webb songs. During 1968, the group scored a smash pop and rhythm-and-blues hit with Laura Nyro’s “Stoned Soul Picnic” and major pop hits with Nyro’s “Sweet Blindness” and Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson’s “California Soul.” The following year, they had top pop hits with the medley “Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In” (a smash R&B hit) from the Broadway musical Hair and Nyro’s “Wedding Bell Blues,” and major pop hits with “Blowing Away” and Neil Sedaka’s “Workin’ on a Groovy Thing.”

In 1970, The Fifth Dimension switched to Bell Records, managing a major hit with Nyro’s “Save the Country” and a pop and rhythm-and-blues smash with “One Less Bell to Answer,” written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. By the early 1970s, The Fifth Dimension were established on the supper club circuit. They achieved their final (near-smash) hits with “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All” and “If I Could Reach You” in 1972. With McLemore, Townson, and LaRue as main-stays, The Fifth Dimension moved to ABC, then Mo-town, while continuing to tour the supper club circuit. In 1995, the group recorded their first album in 16 years.

Married in 1969, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., left The Fifth Dimension in November 1975. They scored a top pop and rhythm-and-blues hit with “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)” and a near-smash hit in both fields with “Your Love,” They hosted their own summer CBS-TV variety show in 1977, yet McCoo went solo in 1978, launching her own supper club career while hosting the television show Solid Gold from 1981 to 1984. She later appeared in the soap opera Days of Our Lives and, in 1991, recorded an album of contemporary gospel music, The Me Nobody Knows.


The F. D.: Up, Up and Away (1967); The Magic Garden (1967); Stoned Soul Picnic (1968); The Age of Aquarius (1969); Greatest Hits (1970); The July 5th Album (1970); Portrait (1970); Love’s Lines, Angles and Rhymes (1971); Live! (1971); Reflections (1971); Individually and Collectively (1972); Living Together, Growing Together (1973); Soul and Inspiration (1975); Earthbound (1975); Star Dancing (1978); High on Sunshine (1979); The F. D. Is in the House (1995). MARILY N MCCOO AND BILL Y DAVIS JR.: I Hope We Get to Love in Time (1976); Two of Us (1977); Marilyn and Billy (1978). MARILY N MCCOO: The Me Nobody Knows (1991).

—Brock Helander