Lamonte McLemore

Biography by

It may surprise some that 5th Dimension member Lamonte McLemore's main passions as a kid were playing baseball and "running the streets." These activities seem at odds with the timbre of the 5th Dimension,…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

It may surprise some that 5th Dimension member Lamonte McLemore's main passions as a kid were playing baseball and "running the streets." These activities seem at odds with the timbre of the 5th Dimension, whose sound a mixture of cool jazz, R&B, and pop was once described as "champagne soul" and whose look oozed middle-class American appeal. When McLemore saw that the guys in vocal groups got the girls, he added music to his lists of passions. Both dreams came to fruition as McLemore was an AA league pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers and later racked up several gold and platinum awards with the 5th Dimension. The gold LPs were Up Up and Away, which went to number eight pop in summer 1967; The Age of Aquarius, which held the number two pop spot for two weeks in spring 1969; Greatest Hits, which hit number five pop in summer 1970; Portrait; Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes; The 5th Dimension Live!"; and Greatest Hits on Earth. The single "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep At All" went platinum and hit number eight pop in spring 1972; the follow-up, "If I Could Reach You," went to number ten pop in fall 1972. Both were included on the 1973 LP Individually and Collectively. The mustachioed, light-eyed St. Louis native developed a career in professional photography with his work appearing in major magazines such as Harper's Bazaar, Life, Ebony, and the Los Angeles-based magazine Elegant. McLemore met model/singer/U.C.L.A. business major Marilyn McCoo during a photo assignment in the early '60s in L.A., his new home base. Teaming with Elegant ad salesman Harry Elston and Floyd Butler, they formed a vocal quartet, the Hi-Fis. In 1964, the group began touring with Ray Charles after McLemore met him at a magazine photo shoot. The Hi-Fis recorded a regional hit for Charles' Tangerine label ("Lonesome Road"). Elston and Butler left the group and later formed the Friends of Distinction, who had hits on RCA Records ("Grazing in the Grass," "Love or Let Me Be Lonely," "Going in Circles"). McLemore and McCoo later joined with Florence LaRue and St. Louis natives Ron Townson and Billy Davis Jr/ to form the Versatiles, who later became the 5th Dimension. Along with producer Bones Howe, arrangers Bob Alcivar and Bill Holman, and top L.A. session rhythm session the Wrecking Crew (Joe Osborn, Hal Blaine, Larry Knechtel), the group had several hits for Johnny Rivers' Soul City label and later Bell Records, the record division of Columbia Pictures. Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. left the group and became a singing duo scoring a 1976 gold single with "You Don't Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)" on ABC Records. The three remaining members continued to tour, adding a female and a male vocalist. The original lineup of the 5th Dimension appeared in a cover story of the September 10, 1999, issue of Goldmine magazine.