A founding member of popular '60s vocal group the 5th Dimension, Billy Davis, Jr. has continued to attract attention as a soloist and a duo partner with his wife, Marilyn McCoo. The hosts of a musical variety television program, the Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. Show, in 1977, they reunited for a '90s revue, It Takes Two, that paid tribute to the great soul duets of the 60s, 70s, and 80's.
Singing with gospel groups from the age of eight, Davis saved enough money to open a nightclub in downtown St. Louis. Forming a rock band, the Emeralds, he remained with the group after they switched to religious music and changed their name to the Saint Louis Gospel Singers. They released one single, "I'm Saved" b/w "Lord I'm Satisfied" for the independent Hudson label.
Although he enrolled in Washington Tech following his high school graduation, Davis continued to be drawn to music. He formed a band, the Kingsmen, while serving in the United States Army. Moving to Los Angeles, following his honorable discharge, Davis hoped to interest a record label in signing him to a solo contract. Instead, he joined with Ron Townson and Lamonte McLemore to form a band, the Versatiles, that soon expanded with the addition of vocalists McCoo and Florence LaRue. Changing their name to the Fifth Dimension at the suggestion of producer Johnny Rivers in 1965, the group went on to become one of the most successful acts of the late '60s.
Leaving the group in 1975, Davis and McCoo, who married in 1969, embarked on a career as a duo. Their second single, "You Don't Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)", reached the top chart position, remained in the Top 40 for 18 weeks, and culminated with Davis and McCoo receiving a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Group or Duo. Their third single, "Your Love," was released in April 1977, peaked at number fifteen.
Leaving music in 1980, Davis worked a variety of jobs including construction, producing music, and running a pharmaceutical company. He returned to the recording studio two years later to record a solo gospel album, Let Me Have a Dream. In the '90s, Davis concentrated on a career as an actor. He starred in the musical Dreamgirls, in North Carolina in April 1993, and Blues in the Night, at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego in 1994. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi