Marilyn & Billy — A 50 Year Love Song

“Saving All My Love For You” is best known as one of Whitney Houston’s signature songs.

But Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. cut the first recording of the tune seven years earlier, in 1978.
It could serve as an official theme song for McCoo and Davis, who have been married for 48 of the 50 years they’ve been singing together.

After their first big success as members of The 5th Dimension in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the couple opted to part ways with the rest of the group. Their first album as a duo, I Hope We Get to Love In Time, made them stars, with “You Don’t Have to Be A Star” becoming a #1 hit and winning a 1977 Grammy.

That same year, McCoo and Davis became the first African-American couple to host a network television series.

“CBS wanted a variety show that summer,” recalls McCoo, noting the successful model of other musical spouses on TV. “Sonny and Cher and the Captain and Tennille had done well.” (Only one of the three marriages didn’t end in divorce).

“We’ve been blessed,” says McCoo. “After all this time, we’re still together. And we still sing in our original keys.”

“Its like He said, ‘I’m gonna let you keep your voices’” jokes Davis. “Everything else on us has fallen, but we can still sing the same.”

“We feel like our friendship is a very important part of our marriage,” says McCoo. “We were friends for years before we started dating or fell in love. We also both love music and performing it together.”

That said, the two have enjoyed working independently on many projects. In 1980, McCoo and Andy Gibb replaced Dionne Warwick as hosts for the second season of syndicated television series Solid Gold.

 “The show was intended to appeal to a young audience,” says McCoo. “So they didn’t want to have married hosts.”

 The weekly, genre-neutral countdown of radio’s top hits is perhaps best remembered for its troupe of scantily clad dancers led by Darcel Wynne, and her enormous waist-length hairdo. But McCoo was also a staple of the program, cohosting or solo hosting for five of its eight years on air.

McCoo and Davis have also both recorded solo albums of religious music and performed in the theater (Davis won critical praise as James Thunder Early in a production of Dreamgirls and McCoo played Broadway in Show Boat). As a twosome, they played Jamie’s prospective in-laws on The Jamie Foxx Show in the late 1990s.

But throughout the decades, McCoo and Davis continued to perform as a duo. In 2013, they released their most recent recording, a live album featuring many of the songs they’ll perform this week at Feinstein’s at the Nikko. The album also includes yet another tune that could serve as the couple’s theme: “Let’s Stay Together.”

Learn the inside story of one of Marilyn and Billy’s earliest hits as part of the Fifth Dimension.