5th Dimension couple sings Beatles songs with civil rights twist

As two-fifths of the 5th Dimension, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. helped to let the sunshine in after the darkest instances of the civil rights motion.

So the husband-and-wife duo, who’ve been married for 52 years, can’t imagine simply how far we haven’t come because the ’60s.

“It’s come back with a vengeance,” Davis, 82, instructed The Post concerning the racial injustice that has arisen from George Floyd to Daunte Wright. “In 2021, you would think that we had moved on so much farther past that . . . It hurts us. It’s like they’re our own sons and daughters that are being killed.”

As their new album “Blackbird: Lennon-McCartney Icons,” a group of Beatles covers, arrives on Friday, the “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)” couple continues to be preventing the nice battle for the black battle.

Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.
Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.
Getty Images

“You think about the blackbirds being the babies that leave their mother’s nest, and they go out to discover the world and to find out what life is about,” mentioned McCoo, 77. “And sometimes they don’t come back. That’s [why] so many of these young people that have been killed recently, they’re our blackbirds.”

With such ’60s and early ’70s classics as “Up, Up and Away,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “One Less Bell To Answer” and, after all, “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” the pioneering pair that made flower-power pop one thing that crossed the colour strains within the midst of racial divisiveness nonetheless feels that there’s a lot work to be executed within the Black Lives Matter motion.

“I mean, my wife is scared for me to go out after all these years,” mentioned Davis.

And, McCoo added, “I’m always glad when he walks through the door.” 

On “Blackbird,” Beatles gems resembling “Help!” and “Ticket to Ride” tackle a complete new which means. Of the latter, McCoo mentioned, “It kind of lent itself to Rosa Parks’ story and the bus boycott back in the ’50s as a result of her refusing to give up her seat.”

The 5th Dimension
The 5th Dimension
Michael Ochs Archives

In 1968, the 5th Dimension received 4 of their six Grammys for “Up, Up and Away,” which took residence Record of the Year the identical night time that The Beatles picked up Album of the Year for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

“At that time, there was no Grammy Awards on television,” mentioned McCoo. “So the first time we find out that we were nominated . . . we’re saying, ‘What’s a Grammy?’ ”

Surprisingly, although, the 5th Dimension acquired rejected by Motown earlier than their Grammy-winning glory. “We had gone to Motown hoping to get a record deal, which didn’t come together,” mentioned McCoo. “Because we were up against the Supremes, the Temptations, the Four Tops. So we never stood out enough.”

The cover of "Blackbird: Lennon-McCartney Icons" the new album from Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.
“Blackbird: Lennon-McCartney Icons” is the brand new album from Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.

But funnily sufficient, added McCoo, “We’ve run into Berry [Gordy] many times through the years, and he says, ‘You guys got away from me!’ ”

For McCoo and Davis, taking part in alongside B.B. King, Mahalia Jackson and Stevie Wonder on the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival — which is the topic of the upcoming Questlove-directed documentary “Summer of Soul (…Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” — was a memorable second with the 5th Dimension.

Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.
Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.
CBS by way of Getty Images

“We were so excited, because we were going to be performing in front of our own people,” mentioned McCoo. “They weren’t rowdy; you didn’t need to have any police there.”

And 52 years after Marilyn sealed the deal with her Bill, they nonetheless love one another so.

They all the time will.

“We’re still best friends,” mentioned Davis. “We’re together all day, every day. We don’t know how not to be together.”

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