Billy Davis Jr.

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Billy Davis Jr.
Billy Davis guitarist.jpg
Background information
Born (1938-06-26) June 26, 1938 (age 84)
OriginSt. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)Singer, musician
Years active1950s–present
Labels
Websitemccoodavis.com

Billy Davis Jr. (born June 26, 1938, in St. Louis, Missouri)[1] is an American singer and musician, best known as a member of the 5th Dimension. Along with his wife Marilyn McCoo, he had hit records during 1976 and 1977 with "I Hope We Get to Love in Time", "Your Love", and "You Don't Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)". Davis and McCoo were married in 1969. They became the first African-American married couple to host a network television series, titled The Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. Show, on CBS in the summer of 1977, the year "You Don't Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)" won a Grammy Award.

Biography[edit]

Davis joined the 5th Dimension, then called the Versatiles, in 1966. The group's first big hit was with 1967's "Up, Up and Away", written by Jimmy Webb. The song won four 1968 Grammy Awards and was the title track to the 5th Dimension's first hit LP. A year later, the group recorded the song "Stoned Soul Picnic". A medley of "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" (from the musical Hair) reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in April to May 1969 and won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. The group's recording of "Wedding Bell Blues" topped the US Hot 100 in November 1969. Davis sang the male lead on the group's singles "Worst That Could Happen", "A Change Is Gonna Come/People Got to Be Free", and "I'll Be Lovin' You Forever".

In 1975, Davis and McCoo left the 5th Dimension and began to perform as a duo. Landing a contract with ABC Records, they recorded their 1976 debut album I Hope We Get to Love in Time. The first single was the title track, which was a moderate hit. The follow-up "You Don't Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)" was an even bigger hit, reaching No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in January 1977. Davis and McCoo were awarded a gold single and a gold album as well as a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. They released one more album on ABC in 1978, produced by Frank Wilson and containing the ballad "My Reason to Be". The pair signed with CBS Records the following year and released their last album as a duo until October 2008 when they released The Many Faces of Love, a collection of hit songs from the 1960s and 1970s.

Davis Jr. performing in 1970

The album Marilyn and Billy featured the song "Saving All My Love for You", later turned into a number one hit by Whitney Houston. It also contained the disco single "Shine On Silver Moon". The pair decided to go solo professionally in the early 1980s.

In 1982 Davis recorded the gospel album Let Me Have a Dream with Rev. James Cleveland. Davis followed that project with a guest appearance on a jazz/pop album by Scott Scheer.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed McCoo and Davis among hundreds of artists whose material was destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[2] In 2020, Davis Jr and McCoo released a new album called Blackbird Lennon-McCartney Icons for first time in 30 years. Entrepreneur Kathy Ireland released the album through her record label EE1.[3] The duo said it was a civil rights movement which became a human rights movement with a goal to encourage people to come together during trying times.[4] During an interview about the album in In June 29, 2021 Questlove called Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr "the first couple of Pop and Soul." They would later appear in Quest's directorial debut, Summer of Soul.[5]

Theater, television, and film[edit]

Davis starred in the musical Blues in the Night at the Old Globe Theatre. In the role of James "Thunder" Early, he also starred in the North Carolina Theatre production of Dreamgirls. Kay McLain, of the Durham Herald-Sun, wrote "Davis made an endearing character of Early…give him a microphone and the spotlight and he's a pro." In his later guest appearances on the WB's Jamie Foxx Show, he and McCoo played the affluent parents of Foxx's girlfriend Fancy. Over the years, Davis has made frequent appearances on most of the national morning and night time talk and variety shows. Davis also appeared alongside McCoo in the 2021 documentary Summer of Soul where they reflected on their participation and impact of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Davis Jr., Billy; McCoo, Marilyn (2004). "2". Up, Up and Away. Chicago: Northfield Publishing. ISBN 1-881273-17-2. ...my story begins on June 26, 1938, when I was born in St. Louis, Missouri...
  2. ^ Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  3. ^ "Sunday Conversation: Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr Return to the Studio After 30 Years with Beatles Tribute Album". Forbes.
  4. ^ Baltin, Steve (May 2, 2021). "Sunday Conversation: Marilyn McCoo And Billy Davis Jr Return To The Studio After 30 Years With Beatles Tribute Album". Forbes. Retrieved May 2, 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis - Questlove Supreme".

External links[edit]