Performing this weekend as part of Feinstein’s at the Nikko’s Summer of Love celebration, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. will undoubtedly perform the mini-medley of “Aquarius” and “Let The Sun Shine In” they helped make famous as founding members of the hitmaking pop group The Fifth Dimension.
But, while the group’s hybrid recording of the two songs from Broadway musical Hair became their first #1 hit—perching atop the Billboard charts for six consecutive weeks in April and May of 1969—its very existence was the result of a happy accident.
“I was out shopping in New York one day,” recalled Davis recently, “and I left my wallet in the back of a cab. Well, a guy found it and called me, and I went over to his house to pick it up. It turned out that he was one of the producers of Hair and he gave me a pair of box seat tickets.”
“Now Marilyn and I had been wanting to see the show. It was very popular because it was one of the first times people got up on a Broadway stage naked. But little did we know what we were going to hear.”
“’Age of Aquarius’ was just a great song,” Davis says, “It captured the feeling of the times and it had a sense of happiness.”
“We were into astrology then, too,” adds McCoo.
Success was clearly in the stars: Not only was the song a chart-topper in 1969, but throughout 1970 it was the most frequently played song on American radio and television.
In addition to “Aquarius,” McCoo and Davis had additional #1 hits with The 5th Dimension’s “Wedding Bell Blues,” on which McCoo—who has a four octave range—sang lead and their most famous song as a duo, the inextinguishable earworm “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show).”
The duo’s other hits include “I Hope We Get to Love On Time,” “Your Love,” and they continue to perform Fifth Dimension favorites, including “Up, Up and Away,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All,” and “One Less Bell to Answer.”
In addition to McCoo and Davis’ upcoming shows, you’ll also be able to hear “Age of Aquarius” and other great hits from Hair when Feinstein’s at the Nikko presents a live concert version of the musical on August 25 and 26.