By September 15, 2012 0 Comments Read More →

Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.

InterView Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr When the moon is in the 7th house…. And Jupiter aligns with Mars..

The time was the Vietnam War. Campus protests were common and the summer of love was over. There was a feeling angst in the youth culture. (See August ModestoView, the Summer of Love) Out of the haze of war and angst, The 5th Dimension rose to fame. In 1967 Billy Davis, Jr.<,_Jr.>, Florence LaRue<>, Marilyn McCoo<>, Lamonte McLemore<>, and Ron Townson<> topped the charts with Up, Up and Away. The 5th Dimension became superstars with 1969s Aquarius /Let the Sunshine In from the play Hair and the rest is history and many years of hits followed. ModestoView got to catch up with Marilyn McCoo as she and her husband Billy Davis Jr. gear up for their show at the Gallo Center on September 15.

ChrisMurphy: I was a massive 5th Dimension fan and you have such a unique perspective for the music. You have seen the music world change so much. Aquarius / Let The Sun Shine In was a breath of fresh air in 1969 in a difficult period. How did you feel about that kind of transition?

Marilyn McCoo: We were not the political types. We all had our own individual opinions about politics and life, and we didn’t agree, so we didn’t broach the subject. I addition, we always felt we were entertainers and we didn’t feel itwas our job to impose our opinion.

CM: You have hits in all the recent decades and you still continue to tour today, how would you feel the music business has changed?

MM: One thing we have always realized, that to be there for along time, thehits are going to change to reflect the tastes of the youth who are coming up. They are making the music that will make their memories. Each group wants to have their own group, their sensibilities and what they are going through, just like we did during our time. I don’t try to do music that we think the young people are going to relate to, but basically sing about the basic things about love and what is going on around you and that connects. But our approach will be different as our lives are different.

What Billy and I like to do is mix up our show, do hits from our era and do hits from today or hits from the past decade, that if we were recording in this era, would be songs that would represent what we would like to do.

CM: It seems like young people are getting more experimental in their music tastes. MM: One of the things we like about the young people of today is that they have a wider range of music that are interested in. Thank god for YouTube as the youth like to explore different music. When they hear our music, they are enjoying thedifferent approaches of a variety of music.

CM: You were a big part of Solid Gold and all of these other early “star search” type of shows were so groundbreaking. How do you feel the music business is different now? MM: They way they are doing things now, there are new opportunities and so many ways to be heard and to break through. You don’t have to live in LA, Chicago or in Detroit during the Motown era anymore. Years ago, you didn’t have a chance to be heard unless you lived there, but now you can live anywhere and get discovered. I would like to see these artists have a chance “develop” more before they make it big and refine their own gift more as they break through.

CM: If you have to go back and look at your time with the 5th Dimension, what was one of your most memorable shows?

MM: Early on, we were playing this huge show in Toronto and there was a sea of 40,000faces. It was just amazing to see that many people to show up to see us play One time, we played the White House when Nixon was president, there as a 50 Governor conference on Drugs. One of the songs that the 5th Dimension did was a musical interpretation of the Declaration of Independence. If you read the Declaration, it is very patriotic, but it was really talking about revolution, so here we are in the midst of the Vietnam War, singing about revolution at the White House. When we finished the song, no one applauded, utter silence. When Nixon started applauding, everyone applauded, a very awkward interesting moment.

CM: Big props to you and Billy, you have been married for so long in an industry that is loaded with scandal and break up. What is one of your secrets?

MM: One of the big secrets to our relationship is our friendship. We were best friends long before we were married. We have been married for 43 years now, a long time to live together. One thing that holds us together is he is my best friend and I am his best friend. Also, one thing we learn is how to pick your battles and know when to bring things up. We respect each other.

CM: Who inspires you now? MM: We are doing an Alicia Keys song in our show and we love the way she expresses herself. We like a lot of the young artists and we like the way young people say what they want to say. We know it really gives audiences to latch on to.

CM: The people of Modesto are excited to see you. What are some of the treats the crowd at the Gallo Center

MM: Of course, they will hear our big hits and we will honor the wonderful hits of the 5th Dimension that brought us to where we are today and play some of our hits together as a duet act. Billy is going to do some Blues and we both sing some Jazz. One thing people were not award of, Playboy used to have a Jazz poll, and we were very honored that for 4 years in a row, the 5th Dimension was selected by Jazz musicians as the best Jazz band. Our show is a mixture of music from our era, from today and before our era, it is so cool , young people hear it and they say’ “ is so cool, we love the way you sing that” The people who come to see us are the ones that love music.

We are ready excited to come to Modesto and we are going to have a fun evening with our audience.

Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. GalloCenter for the Arts Sept 15, 8 pm



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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.