The 5th Dimension

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The 5th Dimension
The 5th Dimension in 1969. Back row: Townson and McLemore. Front row: LaRue, Davis, and McCoo
The 5th Dimension in 1969.
Back row: Townson and McLemore.
Front row: LaRue, Davis, and McCoo
Background information
Also known asthe Versatiles (1965–1966)
OriginLos Angeles, California, United States
GenresR&B, pop, soul, sunshine pop, psychedelic soul
Years active1966–present
(until 1975 in original incarnation)
LabelsSoul City, Imperial, Bell, Arista, ABC, Motown
MembersFlorence LaRue
Patrice Morris
Leonard Tucker
Floyd Smith
Willie Williams
Past membersBilly Davis Jr.
Marilyn McCoo
Lamonte McLemore
Ronald Townson
See: Membership section for detailed listing

The 5th Dimension is an American popular music vocal group, whose repertoire includes pop, R&B, soul, jazz, light opera, and Broadway: this melange was called "Champagne Soul".

Formed as the Versatiles in late 1965, the group changed its name to "the 5th Dimension" by 1966. They became well known during the late 1960s and early 1970s for their popular hit songs "Up, Up and Away", "Stoned Soul Picnic", "Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)", "Wedding Bell Blues", "One Less Bell to Answer", "Never My Love", and "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep at All" as well as The Magic Garden album.

The five original members were Billy Davis Jr., Florence La Rue, Marilyn McCoo, Lamonte McLemore, and Ronald Townson. They have recorded for several 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 later recorded 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 recorded songs by well-known songwriters such as "One Less Bell to Answer", written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and the songs and music of Jimmy Webb, who wrote their hit "Up, Up and Away". The group recorded an album composed almost entirely of Webb songs called The Magic Garden.

The 5th Dimension's producer, Bones Howe, used Bob Alcivar as the singers' vocal arranger, as well as instrumental backing by the Wrecking Crew for their recording sessions.



In the early 1960s, Lamonte McLemore and Marilyn McCoo got together with three friends from Los Angeles—Harry Elston, Lawrence Summers. and Fritz Baskett—to form a group called 'the Hi-Fis' (which later became 'the Vocals'). 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 Elston to go his own way, eventually leading to his forming The Friends of Distinction, with latter day Hi-Fis member, Floyd Butler.

McLemore sought to form another group and started looking for members to join him and McCoo. McCoo, who had studied with the respected vocal coach Eddie Beal, had appeared in high school and college musical productions and was known for her ability to do torch songs. McLemore found Florence LaRue, who had received training in singing, dancing, and violin; and who won the talent portion at the Miss Bronze California contest, which McLemore was assigned to photograph. (McCoo had won the contest the prior year.) About the same time LaRue was approached to join the group, McLemore recruited an old friend, Ronald Townson, who at age six was singing in choirs and gospel groups in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. 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 Choir, and played a small part in the film Porgy and Bess. He demonstrated his 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.

Another of McLemore's friends from St. Louis days, 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 musical groups. When asked to join McLemore's new group, he agreed, while hoping for a solo contract from Motown.

Major hits[edit]

The group performing in 1970

The members began rehearsing as the Versatiles in late 1965 and auditioned for Marc Gordon, who headed Motown's Los Angeles office. Although Motown rejected the group's demo tape, Gordon 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 successful single.

In 1965 the Mamas & the Papas' first single, lead member John Phillips' "Go Where You Wanna Go", failed to open the quartet's chart career. At the suggestion of Rivers and their manager Marc Gordon, the 5th Dimension covered the same song virtually note-for-note (except that the last verse of the 5th Dimension's version includes upward modulation), and their early 1967 version climbed into the top 20 on R&B and pop stations and peaked at No. 16 on the Hot 100, opening the quintet's chart career.

The budding songwriter Jimmy Webb supplied the group with their breakthrough hit, "Up, Up and Away", a mid-1967 No. 7 hit that won five Grammy Awards. The following year, the group scored major hit singles with Laura Nyro's songs "Stoned Soul Picnic" (U.S. #3) and "Sweet Blindness" (U.S. No. 13). The group received a gold record for their album Stoned Soul Picnic.

That album included "California Soul", which peaked at No. 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 for six straight weeks in April and May, and another Nyro song, "Wedding Bell Blues", doing the same for the first three full weeks in November. Their cover of Neil Sedaka's "Workin' On a Groovy Thing" went to No. 20 in between. Those four singles kept the group on the Hot 100 for all but four weeks in 1969. By some reckonings, "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" was the biggest hit single for 1969.[1]

Later top 20 hits included 1970's "One Less Bell to Answer" (U.S. No. 2), 1971's "Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes" (U.S. No. 19) and "Never My Love" (U.S. No. 12), 1972's "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep at All" (U.S. No. 8) and "If I Could Reach You" (U.S. No. 10). The group had seven other top 40 hits, the last being 1973's "Living Together, Growing Together" (U.S. No. 32) from the film Lost Horizon.

TV appearances[edit]

The 5th Dimension performed "Sweet Blindness" on Frank Sinatra's 1968 TV special Francis Albert Sinatra Does His Thing and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show twice in 1969. The group performed and sang a medley consisting of "What the World Needs Now Is Love" and the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" on February 23, 1969, and performed and sang "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" on May 18, 1969, the day after the medley fell from the Hot 100 summit. That same year the group appeared on the British show This Is Tom Jones, singing "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" and "Got My Mojo Workin'".

The 5th Dimension were the featured act of a July 28, 1969, CBS broadcast of highlights from the Harlem Cultural Festival, the "Black Woodstock" gathering in Mount Morris Park that drew 300,000 festival attendees over six shows. The New York Times reported the 5th Dimension show drew 60,000 alone.[2]

The group sang "Workin' On a Groovy Thing" and "Wedding Bell Blues" on Woody Allen's The Woody Allen Special in 1969. They introduced "Puppet Man" and "One Less Bell To Answer" as guests in the It Takes a Thief episode "To Sing a Song of Murder" in 1970. The latter song was used as a plot device in which its closing notes were to activate a bomb in an assassination attempt of the head of a fictitious country.

The 5th Dimension: An Odyssey in the Cosmic Universe of Peter Max, a television special, aired on CBS on May 21, 1970.

During the last season of The Ed Sullivan Show, Sullivan dedicated the entire February 21, 1971, episode to the fifth anniversary of the 5th Dimension. The group opened the show with "Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes" and later joined Connie Stevens for "Puppet Man". They came back for the last 15 minutes of the show and sang their hits "Up, Up and Away", "One Less Bell to Answer", "Stoned Soul Picnic", "Wedding Bell Blues", and finished up with "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In". This appearance was the group's last on Sullivan.

The 5th Dimension Traveling Sunshine Show, a television special, aired on August 18, 1971. The group also performed in Burt Bacharach in Shangri-La, a 1973 special attempting to promote Lost Horizon.[3]

The 5th Dimension made appearances on Soul Train, American Bandstand, The Flip Wilson Show, The Mike Douglas Show, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.


In 1975, McCoo and Davis, who had married on 26 July 1969, left the group to do collective and individual projects. The duo had success with "Your Love" and the chart topper "You Don't Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)", which won them their seventh Grammy award.

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, and their version peaked much further down the charts than hers, which soared to the top. 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.

McCoo served a lengthy 1980s stint as the host of the TV show Solid Gold.

Reunion and departure[edit]

The original quintet reunited in 1990 and 1991 for a tour. Townson 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 Walker recorded a new album, In the House, for Click Records. In 1998, Willie Williams replaced Townson, who died in 2001 due to kidney failure. Battle departed in 2002, to be replaced by Van Jewell. McLemore left the group in March 2006.


Florence LaRue and the 5th Dimension performing a free outdoor concert in Manalapan, New Jersey in 2018

As of April 2009, the group was actively touring as "The 5th Dimension featuring Florence LaRue", led by LaRue, with Willie Williams, Leonard Tucker, Patrice Morris, and Floyd Smith.[4]

McCoo and Davis, who have been married for over 50 years, continue to tour as their own act titled "Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr." In October 2011, McCoo and Davis were featured on the Cliff Richard album Soulicious, appearing live on stage in the tour of the same name, reprising several of their hits as well as dueting with Richard. In 2013, McCoo and Davis released their own double-CD project: Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. Live.

On February 14, 2015, McLemore released an autobiographical memoir, From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension: A Life Fulfilled in Baseball, Photography and Music.

On June 21, 2016, the 5th Dimension featuring Florence LaRue performed in The Villages, Florida, just days after the Orlando nightclub shooting. LaRue took the opportunity to share her thoughts on the tragedy: "We will not be terrorized. We know what’s happening in the world, but this is a song about good health, love, peace and happiness. We still believe in those things today," she stated before the group performed "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In".[5]

In November 2017, the 5th Dimension appeared for 18 performances at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Centre in Branson, Missouri, in the Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza hosted by Jimmy Osmond.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed The 5th Dimension among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[6]


The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002.[7]

They have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, inducted August 9, 1991, and the St. Louis Walk of Fame, inducted on March 18, 2010.[8]


McCoo and Davis left the group in November 1975. Since then, other members have included:

  • Eloise Laws (McCoo replacement) 1975
  • Danny Beard (Davis replacement) 1975–1978
  • Marjorie Barnes (McCoo replacement) 1976–1977
  • Terri Bryant (McCoo replacement) 1978–1979
  • Mic Bell (Townson replacement) 1978–1979
  • Lou Courtney (Davis replacement) 1978–1979
  • Pat Bass (McCoo replacement) 1979
  • Tanya Boyd (McCoo replacement) 1979
  • Joyce Wright Pierce (McCoo replacement) 1979–1986 and 1987
  • Michael Procter (Davis replacement) 1979–1988
  • Ron Townson 1979–1997
  • Estrelita (McCoo replacement) 1986
  • Phyllis Battle (McCoo replacement) 1988–2001
  • Eugene Barry-Hill (Davis replacement) 1989–1992
  • Greg Walker (Davis replacement) 1993–2006
  • Willie Williams (Townson replacement) 1998–present
  • Van Jewell (McCoo replacement) 2002, 2005
  • Julie Delgado (McCoo replacement) 2002–2005
  • Jamila Ajibade (McCoo replacement) 2005–2006 and 2007–2008
  • Leonard Tucker (Davis replacement) 2006–present
  • Valerie Davis (McCoo replacement) 2006–2007
  • Jennifer Leigh Warren (McCoo replacement) 2007
  • Gwyn Foxx (McCoo replacement) December 2007
  • Michael Mishaw (McLemore replacement) 2006–2008 Michael Mishaw
  • Patrice Morris (McCoo replacement) 2008–present
  • Floyd Smith (McLemore replacement) 2009–present
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
1976–76 Marjorie Barnes
1978 Terri Bryant
1978–79 Lou Courtney Mic Bell
1979 Pat Bass/
Tanya Boyd/
Joyce Wright Pierce
Michael Procter
1980–86 Joyce Wright Pierce Ron Townson
1986 Estrelita
1987 Joyce Wright Pierce
1988 Phyllis Battle
1989–92 Eugene Barry Hill
1993–98 Greg Walker
1998–2002 Willie Williams
2002 Van Jewell
2002–05 Julie Delgado
2005 Van Jewell
2005–06 Jamila Ajibade
2006–07 Valerie Davis Leonard Tucker Michael Mishaw
2007 Jennifer Lee Warren/
Gwyn Foxx
2008 Patrice Morris
2009–present Floyd Smith



US charts are from Billboard. Canadian charts are taken from the weekly surveys of CHUM in Toronto.

Year Song US US AC US R&B CAN UK[10] AUS NZ B-side
From same album as A-side except where indicated
Certification Album
1966 "Go Where You Wanna Go" 16 - - 9 - 75 - "Too Poor to Die" (Non-album track) Up, Up and Away
1967 "Another Day, Another Heartache" 45 - - - - - - "Rosecrans Blvd."
"Up, Up and Away" 7 9 - 1 - 1 9 "Which Way to Nowhere"
"Paper Cup" 34 - - 17 - 47 - "Poor Side of Town" (from Up, Up and Away) The Magic Garden
1968 "Carpet Man" 29 - - 3 - 94 - "The Magic Garden"
"Stoned Soul Picnic" 3 - 2 3 - - - "The Sailboat Song" US: Gold[11] Stoned Soul Picnic
"Sweet Blindness" 13 - 45 15 - 19 10 "Bobbie's Blues (Who Do You Think Of?)"
"California Soul" 25 - 49 - - - - "It'll Never Be the Same Again"
1969 "Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)" 1 1 6 1 11 4 6 "Don'tcha Hear Me Callin' to Ya?" US: Gold[11] The Age of Aquarius
"Workin' on a Groovy Thing" 20 9 15 17 - 48 - "Broken Wing Bird" (from Stoned Soul Picnic)
"Wedding Bell Blues" 1 1 23 3 16 20 1 "Lovin' Stew" (from Stoned Soul Picnic) US: Gold[11]
"Blowing Away" 21 7 - 24 - 55 18 "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 - - - 97 - "It'll Never Be the Same Again" (from Stoned Soul Picnic) The Magic Garden
"Puppet Man" 24 31 - - - 19 - "A Love Like Ours" Portrait
"Save the Country" 27 10 41 24 - 79 - "Dimension 5ive"
"On the Beach (In the Summertime)" 54 12 - - - - - "This Is Your Life" (from Portrait) Non-album track
"One Less Bell to Answer" 2 1 4 3 - - - "Feelin' Alright?" US: Gold[11] Portrait
1971 "Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes" 19 6 28 28 - - - "The Singer" Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes
"Light Sings" 44 12 - - - - - "Viva! (Viva Tirado)"
"Never My Love" (live) 12 1 45 21 - 85 - "A Love Like Ours" (from Portrait) 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 - 7 - "The River Witch" (from Living Together, Growing Together) US: Gold[11] 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" (from Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes)
"Flashback" 82 30 75 - - 60 - "Diggin' for a Livin'" Non-album tracks
1974 "Harlem" - - 87 - - - - "My Song" Soul & Inspiration
1975 "No Love in the Room" - 11 - - - - - "I Don't Know How to Look for Love"
"Magic in My Life" - - - - - - - "Lean on Me Always" Earthbound
"Walk Your Feet in the Sunshine" - - - - - - - "Speaking with My Heart"
1976 "Love Hangover" 80 - 39 - - - - "Will You Be There" Non-album tracks
1978 "You Are the Reason (I Feel Like Dancing)" - - 66 - - - - "Slipping into Something New"
1983 "Surrender" - - - - - - - "Fantasy"

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Billboard 200 R&B Certification Record Label
1967 Up, Up and Away 8 10 US: Gold[11] Soul City Records
The Magic Garden 105 43
1968 Stoned Soul Picnic 21 10
1969 The Age of Aquarius 2 2 US: Gold[11]
1970 Portrait 20 6 US: Gold[11] Bell Records
1971 Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes 17 10 US: Gold[11]
1972 Individually and Collectively 58 21
1973 Living Together, Growing Together 108 25
1974 Soul & Inspiration 55
1975 Earthbound 136 30 ABC Records
1978 Star Dancing Motown Records
High on Sunshine
1995 In the House Click Records

Live albums[edit]

Year Album Billboard 200 R&B Certification Record Label
1971 Live!! 32 13 US: Gold[11] Bell Records
1995 Respect – Live Success Records
2005 Live! Plus Rare Studio Recordings! Classic World Productions

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album Billboard 200 R&B Certification Record Label
1967 The Fantastic 5th Dimension Liberty Records
1969 Let the Sunshine In
1970 Greatest Hits (Soul City) 5 8 US: Gold[11] Soul City Records
Dimension Five Bell Records
The July 5th Album 63 Soul City Records
Love Garden Liberty Records
The 5th Dimension Special K-tel Records
1971 The Best of Fifth Dimension Karussell Records
The Fantastic Fifth Dimension Vol. 2 Liberty Records
Reflections 112 Bell Records
1972 Greatest Hits on Earth 14 10 US: Gold[11]
1976 22 of Their Fabulous Hits
1982 The Very Best of 5th Dimension Warwick Records
1986 Anthology 1967–1973 Rhino Records
1997 Up-Up and Away: The Definitive Collection Arista Records
1999 Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In Brilliant

There have been several 5th Dimension compilations issued in recent years. In 2004, Arista issued Ultimate 5th Dimension, a single disc containing 20 hit singles plus a previously unreleased McCoo-led take on "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye". In 2011, Sony/Legacy reissued the two-CD The Definitive Collection as The Essential 5th Dimension, with a few changes to the repertoire. Legacy issued, in 2014, the group's entry in their "Playlist" series of single disc releases, including the radio edit of "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" (which was issued on the 1970 Greatest Hits vinyl album) and a few mono single versions. Finally, in December 2016, Real Gone Music issued the three-disc set The Complete Soul City/Bell Singles 1966–1975.



  1. ^ "The Musicradio Top 100 of 1969". WABC. Retrieved 2020-06-11.
  2. ^ "Parks and Recreation: Harlem at a crossroads in the summer of '69" (PDF). Poverty & Race. Poverty and Race Research Action Council. June 2017.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Florence LaRue & The 5th Dimension: A Brief Biography" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-05-30. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
  5. ^ "5th Dimension's Florence LaRue charms sold-out crowds at Savannah Center". Retrieved 2016-08-25.
  6. ^ Rosen, Jody (25 June 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  7. ^ "The 5th Dimension – Inductees – The Vocal Group Hall of Fame Foundation". Vocal Group Hall of Fame Foundation. Archived from the original on 2009-02-02. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
  8. ^ "St. Louis Walk of Fame – The 5th Dimension". St. Louis Walk of Fame. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  9. ^ "LaMonte McLemore". Retrieved 2012-11-10.
  10. ^ Roberts ("From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension: A Life Fulfilled in Baseball, Photography and Music" by LaMonte McLemore as told to Robert-Allan Arno, 2015), David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 199. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Gold & Platinum – RIAA". RIAA. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  12. ^ "The 5th Dimension DVD – 5th Dimension Concert Video – Dionne Warwick DVD". Retrieved October 12, 2019.


  • 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

External links[edit]