Billy Davis, Jr., born in St. Louis, Missouri, started singing at the age of 8 in gospel choirs. Later he worked different jobs, saving enough money to open his own nightclub which he planned to use as an entertainment workshop.
He realized singing was his greatest interest and formed his own rock group — The Emeralds. Singing at different local clubs they switched to gospel, changed their names to The Saint Gospel Singers, eventually recording I'm Saved/ Lord I'm Satisfied on Hudson Records. From high school, Billy went to Washington Tech.
While in the Army, he formed a band called The Kingsmen. He then contacted Lamonte McLemore who by then had left The Hi-Fi's. Billy arrived in Los Angeles hoping to get a record contract with Motown Records as a solo artist. He eventually joined Ron Townson and Lamonte McLemore with Marilyn McCoo and Florence LaRue soon to follow, in a new group called the Versatiles.
Billy and Marilyn first were closest of friends. Their romance didn't happen right away. Once they were together romantically, the rest of the group members worried because if they started having troubles and possibly split up, what would happen to the group? That never occurred, which was a relief to the other members. They married in 1969.
Billy was always known as the sunny Dimension. Billy is said to be "energetic, witty, forever optimistic, voice both vibrant and soulful, biggest smile, brightest outlook on life, looks out on all the goings-on of the people and world around him, frequently adding to the confusion with a word or practical friendly joke."
It is said that when it comes to R&B, Billy's the man to take care of business with The 5th Dimension. He says, "Music, in my opinion, is one of the best ways of communication with the whole world. It's something that everyone can understand when they can't understand each other's language." He states, "I sing from my heart and that's why I can sing anywhere and enjoy what I'm doing. That's the way I try to make people happy, and that's when it feels like I'm really doing my job."
In 1975, Billy wanted to branch out and start a solo career, so he and wife McCoo left the group. Looking for material to record on their solo projects, they found You Don't Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show). It seemed to be a perfect vehicle to launch their career as a duo. Released as their second single, it skyrocketed to #1 on the charts in 1976, staying on the Top 40 for 18 weeks. They received a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance By A Group Or Duo. Their third single on the LP, I Hope We Get To Love In Time titled Your Love, was released in April 1977 entering the Top 20, peaking at #15 and staying on the Top 40 for 8 weeks. This led to their own television show, The Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. Show, on CBS in 1977.
In 1980, Davis left music for a while to go into other businesses including construction, producing music, and a successful pharmaceutical company.
In 1982, Billy returned to the recording studio to record a gospel album called Let Me Have A Dream. He was happy to be able to work again with Rev. James Cleveland. It was back when Billy was a teenager in the St. Gospel Singers that he last worked with Rev. Cleveland.
In April 1993, Davis starred in the hit musical, Dreamgirls, in North Carolina at the North Carolina Theater. In December 1994 he starred in Blues In The Night in San Diego, California at the Old Globe Theater for two months.
Billy will always sing — whether solo, with his wife Marilyn McCoo or with the original 5th Dimension. He has performed solo at the famed Cinegrill in Hollywood and in 1993 his Singing In The Blues act was performed throughout Los Angeles. He is seen performing on television on The Children's Miracle Network and Lou Rawls Parade Of Stars.
In 1999, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. have been in two different tours with, It Takes Two as well as Hit Me With A Hot Note, The Duke Ellington Songbook Tour. They had a guest appearance on Jamie Foxx & Where Are They Now? and were the cover story in Jet Magazine in 1999. In 2001, they sang at the Alex Theater in Los Angeles honoring Steve Allen The Renaissance Man of Television, were present at the Gala Celebrity Opening Night of MAMMA MIA the musical in Century City, CA, were guests on Lifestyle Magazine The Prostate Problem: How To Help Your Man, performed at The Church On The Way in Van Nuys, CA, were guests on The Early Show (CBS), & performed in It Takes Two in Atlantic City. They performed at the Mandalay Bay Hotel on 11-11-01 as "Las Vegas Salutes the Spirit of America," a benefit for the USO Worldwide Operations. They are performers on the DVD Let's Do It Again (Tri-Crown Productions,) as these artists each sing their #1 hits as well as a #1 hit by another artist. McCoo and Davis sing Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In, Wedding Bell Blues and You Don't Have To Be A Star as well as Sonny & Cher's I Got You Babe and with the other artists Rock Around The Clock. McCoo and Davis, Jr. are featured in Jet December 9, 2002 issue. THE PASADENA PLAYHOUSE presented concert, stage and television artists Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. in its popular series, Conversation With, in 2003, and they were guest stars on the game show Pyramid. They sang at the Clippers vs. the Hornets in Los Angeles on December 15th, 2003. In 2004, Marilyn and Billy appeared on An Evening of Stars 25th Anniversary Celebration A Tribute to Lou Rawls, and they were guests on Tavis Smiley.
You haven't heard anything until you have witnessed Billy get the audience going with his soulful rendition of The Worst That Could Happen.
Click here to return to The Original 5th Dimension Tribute Page By Mike Tatsui.