Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr
Legends both as members of the 5th Dimension and as a duo, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis have created a lot of great music over their four decades in the public eye, and have also served as a model of togetherness, with over four decades as a married couple.
McCoo and Davis were thrust into the limelight in 1967 as members of the hot quintet the 5th Dimension, topping the charts with the Grammy winning hit, "Up Up and Away." It began a half decade run as one of the top acts in music, with smash after sunny smash. But as the group's fortunes began to wane in the mid-70s, McCoo and Davis, who married in 1969, left the act to form their own duo.
They came out of the box with a bang, shooting to #1 with their pop gem, "You Don't Have to Be a Star," another Grammy Award winner. The photogenic couple with the wonderful stage presence were rewarded with their own variety show on CBS in the Summer of 1977, and they continued with regular touring around the world.
Unfortunately, McCoo and Davis landed only one more substantial hit, "Your Love," as the changes in the music world in the late 70s and early 80s didn't fit their sophisticated, adult sound. While continuing to work together, the two also established separate careers, with Davis recording Gospel music and McCoo having some continued success both as a recording artist and even more as a television star, including a five-year stint as the host of television's Solid Gold.
The couple rejoined the 5th Dimension for a reunion tour in the early 90s and each also worked in several plays both on and off Broadway. They also took on a recurring role on Jamie Foxx's WB television show.
In 2004 the couple wrote the book Up, Up and Away...How We Found Love, Faith and Lasting Marriage in the Entertainment World. The book described how they maintained such a long marriage and love in the difficult environment of Hollywood, and detailed the struggles of their marriage and career. When asked about how they've stayed together in an environment where that is more the exception than the norm, McCoo and Davis cite prayer as well as a foundation in friendship. Says McCoo, "We started as friends and that developed into love. But we always worked to maintain our friendship."
In 2007, McCoo and Davis went back into the studio for the first time together in more than two decades. Deciding to perform an album of covers of some of their favorite love songs of the 60s and 70s, they teamed with such noted performers as keyboardist Greg Phillinganes (Michael Jackson, Toto) and guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr. The result was The Many Faces of Love, which the couple produced and released on their own label. The album covers many of the same topics as their 2004 book. The message of the album is that the best relationships take time and work, but the rewards can be extremely fulfilling.
McCoo and Davis still tour three to four months a year around the US playing principally in nightclubs and are planning to play more internationally over the next few years. They are also mulling over possibly recording jazz and blues album as the follow up to The Many Faces.
While their time at the top of the musical world was briefer than it should have been, the accomplishments of Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis -- both as entertainers and as people -- have established for them a permanent place on the musical landscape and a role as inspirations for both young performers and young couples in the entertainment industry. We're looking forward to hearing more from them.
By Chris Rizik