The 5th Dimension

This article is about the band. For other uses, see Fifth Dimension (disambiguation).
The 5th Dimension

The 5th Dimension in 1969.
Back row: Townson and McLemore.
Front row: LaRue, Davis, and McCoo.
Background information
Origin Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres R&B, pop, soul, sunshine pop, psychedelic soul
Years active 1966–present
(until 1975 in original incarnation)
Labels Soul City, Imperial, Bell Records, Arista, ABC Records, Motown
Members Florence LaRue
Patrice Morris
Leonard Tucker
Floyd Smith
Willie Williams
Past members Marilyn McCoo
Billy Davis, Jr.
Lamonte McLemore
Ron 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—the melange was coined as "Champagne Soul."

Formed as The Versatiles in late 1965, the group changed its name to the hipper "The 5th Dimension". by 1966. They became well-known during the late 1960s and early 1970s for their popular hits: "Up, Up and Away", "Stoned Soul Picnic", "Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)", "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.

The 5th Dimension's famed producer, Bones Howe, utilized Bob Alcivar as the singers' vocal arranger, as well as The Wrecking Crew, a renowned group of studio musicians including drummer Hal Blaine, for their recording sessions.



In the early 1960s, Lamonte McLemore and Marilyn McCoo got together with three other 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 way, eventually leading to his forming the Friends of Distinction, along 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 way with a torch song. McLemore found Florence LaRue, who had received training as a youngster in singing, dancing, and violin; and who also won the talent portion at the Miss Bronze California contest, which LaMonte was assigned to photograph. (McCoo had won the contest the year prior). About the same time LaRue was approached to join the group, McLemore recruited an old friend, Ron Townson, who at age six had started 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 Gospel Singers for a while, 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 various musical groups. When asked to join McLemore's new group, he agreed, while hoping for a solo contract from Motown.

Major hits

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 the group's demo tape was rejected by Motown, 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 foursome'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 for the last verse's upward modulation), and their early 1967 version climbed into the top 20 on both R&B and pop stations and peaked at #16 on the Hot 100, opening the quintet's chart career.

The 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 Laura Nyro's songs "Stoned Soul Picnic" (U.S. #3) and "Sweet Blindness" (U.S. #13). The group 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 "Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)" 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 #20 in-between. Those four singles kept the group on the Hot 100 all but four weeks in 1969. "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" was the biggest hit single for the entire year of 1969.

Later top 20 hits included 1970's "One Less Bell to Answer" (U.S. #2), 1971's "Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes" (U.S. #19) and "Never My Love" (U.S. #12), 1972's "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep at All" (U.S. #8) and "If I Could Reach You" (U.S. #10). The group also had seven other top 40 hits, the last being 1973's "Living Together, Growing Together" (U.S. #32) from the film Lost Horizon.

TV appearances

The 5th Dimension performed "Sweet Blindness" on Frank Sinatra's 1968 TV special Francis Albert 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" 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 used as a plot device in which the song's closing notes were to activate a bomb in an assassination attempt of the head of a fictitious country.

The 5th Dimension 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: 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". The group 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 would be the group's last on Sullivan.

The 5th Dimension Traveling Sunshine Show, a television special, aired on August 18, 1971.

The 5th Dimension also made memorable 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 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)" which won them their seventh Grammy award. McCoo also served a lengthy '80's 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.

Reunion and departure

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 kidney failure. Battle departed in 2002, to be replaced by Van Jewell. McLemore left the group in March 2006.


As of April 2009, the group is actively touring as "The 5th Dimension featuring Florence LaRue", led by LaRue, with Willie Williams, Leonard Tucker, Patrice Morris, and Floyd Smith.[1]

Celebrating 45 years of marriage, McCoo and Davis continue to tour separately from the 5th Dimension as their own act: "Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr." In October 2011, McCoo and Davis were 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 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 his 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 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting. Band leader Florence 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 one of the band's hit singles, Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.[2]


The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002.[3] The group has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, inducted August 9, 1991, and the St. Louis Walk of Fame, inducted on March 18, 2010.[4]


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

Original lineupFlorence LaRueMarilyn McCooBilly Davis, Jr.LaMonte McLemoreRon Townson
1966–75Florence LaRueMarilyn McCooBilly Davis, Jr.LaMonte McLemoreRon Townson
1975Eloise LawsDanny Beard
1976–76Marjorie Barnes
1978Terri Bryant
1978–79Lou CourtneyMic Bell
1979Pat Bass/
Tanya Boyd/
Joyce Wright Pierce
Michael Procter
1980–86Joyce Wright PierceRon Townson
1987Joyce Wright Pierce
1988Phyllis Battle
1989–92Eugene Barry Hill
1993–98Greg Walker
1998–2002Willie Williams
2002Van Jewell
2002–05Julie Delgado
2005Van Jewell
2005–06Jamila Ajibade
2006–07Valerie DavisLeonard TuckerMichael Mishaw
2007Jennifer Lee Warren/
Gwyn Foxx
2008Patrice Morris
2009–presentFloyd 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[6] AUS B-side 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 - 18 - 1 "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 5 - - "The Sailboat Song" Stoned Soul Picnic
"Sweet Blindness" 13 - 45 15 - 19 "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 "Don'tcha Hear Me Callin' to Ya?" 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 "Lovin' Stew" (from Stoned Soul Picnic)
"Blowing Away" 21 7 - 24 - 55 "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 - 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?" 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 - 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) 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" - - - - - - "My Song" Soul & Inspiration
1975 "No Love in the Room" 105 11 - - - - "I Don't Know How to Look for Love"
1976 "Love Hangover" 80 - 39 - - - "Will You Be There" Non-album tracks
1983 "Surrender" - - - - - - "Fantasy"


Year Album Billboard 200 R&B Record Label
1967 Up, Up and Away 8 10 Soul City Records
The Magic Garden 105 43
1968 Stoned Soul Picnic 21 10
1969 The Age of Aquarius 2 2
1970 Portrait 20 6 Bell Records
1971 Live!! 32 13
Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes 17 10
1972 Individually & 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
Respect - Live Success Records
2005 Live! Plus Other Rare Studio Recordings Classic World Productions

Compilation Albums

Year Album Billboard 200 R&B Record Label
1967 The Fantastic 5th Dimension Liberty Records
1969 Let The Sunshine In
1970 Greatest Hits (Soul City) 5 8 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
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 Definite Collection Arista Records
1999 Aquarius / Let The Sunshine In Brilliant



  1. "Florence LaRue & The 5th Dimension: A Brief Biography" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-04-25.
  2. "5th Dimension's Florence LaRue charms sold-out crowds at Savannah Center". Retrieved 2016-08-25.
  3. "The 5th Dimension - Inductees - The Vocal Group Hall of Fame Foundation". Vocal Group Hall of Fame Foundation. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
  4. "St. Louis Walk of Fame - The 5th Dimension". St. Louis Walk of Fame. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  5. "LaMonte McLemore". Retrieved 2012-11-10.
  6. 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.
  7. "The 5th Dimension DVD - 5th Dimension Concert Video - Dionne Warwick DVD".


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