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Billy Davis, Jr.

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Information about Billy Davis, Jr.

Profile image of Billy Davis, Jr.

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
6/26/1938
Birth Location:
St. Louis, Missouri

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
6/26/1938
Birth Location:
St. Louis
See how Billy Davis, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Singer Billy Davis, Jr. was born on June 26, 1938 in St. Louis, Missouri to William Davis, Sr. and Norris Wilbur. Davis started singing in gospel choirs at an early age. He attended Washington Technical High School in St. Louis and sang with a band called the Emeralds. In 1958, Davis and his father opened a nightclub, where he worked and performed music. In 1961, he was drafted into the United States Army and formed another band, The Kingsmen, while stationed in Germany.

In 1965, Davis moved to Los Angeles, California seeking a recording opportunity with Motown Records. While waiting for his chance to go into the studio with one of their producers, he and friend Lamonte McLemore decided to start a singing group as a hobby. The Versatiles was formed, which included Davis, McLemore, Marilyn McCoo, Florence LaRue, and Ron Townson. The group signed to the Soul City label, changed their name to The 5th Dimension, and recorded their first hit in 1966, "Go Where You Wanna Go." In 1967, they released “Up, Up, and Away,” which won four Grammy Awards and was the title track to The 5th Dimension's first hit album. In 1969, The 5th Dimension released The Age of Aquarius. The album's first single, "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," became a mega-hit and occupied the number one spot on the charts for six weeks. It earned the group two more Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year.

In 1969, Davis married bandmate Marilyn McCoo, and in 1975, they left The 5th Dimension. Together, they released 1976's I Hope We Get To Love In Time, featuring the single, "You Don't Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)." The song went straight to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned the duo a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus. Davis and McCoo went on to host The Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. Show on CBS in 1977.

In 1982, Davis returned to the studio and recorded a solo gospel album called Let Me Have a Dream, which was co-produced by the world-renown Gospel artist, the Rev. James Cleveland. In the 1990s, he continued to sing and explored a career in musical theatre, starring in Dreamgirls in North Carolina in 1993, and Blues in the Night, at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, California in 1994. He later founded the Soldiers For the Second Coming Music Ministry and co-authored the book Up, Up and Away…How We Found Love, Faith and Lasting Marriage in the Entertainment World with McCoo in 2004.

Davis has also earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and The 5th Dimension was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002. He received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in 2012.

Billy Davis, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 29, 2014.

See how Billy Davis, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Billy Davis, Jr.'s interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his maternal family history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his maternal grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his paternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his paternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his paternal family's experience in Missouri
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his father's lumber company
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about how his parents met
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his childhood neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his varied religious experiences as a youth
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about musical traditions in different churches
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. recalls memories from his grade school years
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his love for baseball and professional baseball teams in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about how he met HistoryMaker Lamonte McLemore and Ron Townson
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his favorite subjects in school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about musicians he looked up to as a teenager
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his grade school education
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his high school band, the Emeralds
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about dropping out of high school
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his job and musical trajectory after dropping out of high school
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his decision to sing popular music
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about developing his music and performance skills at the Havana Club in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. describes being drafted into the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about being stationed at Fort Knox in Kentucky and the Merrell Barracks in Germany while serving in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about playing music while in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about performing at the Apollo Theatre and the events of 1963
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about opening the Oriole nightclub in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about separating from his first wife
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about meeting HistoryMaker Lamonte McLemore and moving to California
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about forming the Versatiles with Ron Townson and HistoryMakers Lamonte McLemore and Florence LaRue
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo describe their singing style and the origin of The Versatiles' names
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about the mentorship of Rene DeKnight
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about The Versatiles' manager, Marc Gordon
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their first hit, 'Go Where You Wanna Go' and renaming The Versatiles as The 5th Dimension
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about The 5th Dimension's first album and meeting songwriter Jimmy Webb
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about the significance of The 5th Dimension's first album 'Up, Up and Away'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about The 5th Dimension's second album, 'The Magic Garden'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about working with Bones Howe on The 5th Dimension's second album, 'The Magic Garden;
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about The 5th Dimension's television performances
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about The 5th Dimension's album, "The Age of Aquarius"
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about how they saw 'Hair' the musical on Broadway
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about life on the road and falling in love with each other
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Billy Davis, Jr and Marilyn McCoo talk about the television special, 'The 5th Dimension: An Odyssey and the Cosmic Universe of Peter Max'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about 'One Less Bell to Answer' and 'Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about 'Wedding Bell Blues' and connecting with audiences
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their record contract and the 1971 television special, 'The 5th Dimension Travelling Sunshine Show'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about The 5th Dimension's contract with ABC Records
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about leaving The 5th Dimension and recording the original group's final album
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo reflect on their last album with The 5th Dimension, 'Earthbound'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their joint album and television show
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their second and third joint albums and their international success
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Marilyn McCoo talks about recording a solo album and hosting 'Solid Gold'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about recording a gospel album
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Marilyn McCoo talks about being cast on 'Days of Our Lives'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo describes performing for Pope Saint John Paul II and President George H.W. Bush
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about reuniting with The 5th Dimension in 1990
  • Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about The 5th Dimension's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their Christian faith
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Marilyn McCoo talks about winning a Grammy and performing on Broadway's 'Show Boat'
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about going on tour and working with Jamie Foxx
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about Davis' prostate cancer diagnosis
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their book 'Up, Up and Away: How We Found Love, Faith, and Lasting Marriage in the Entertainment World'
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their recent work and touring with Sir Cliff Richard
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their legacy and their relationship
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about what they would do differently
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his theatre performances
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about Davis' son and their praise ministry
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their community service in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their relationship with the original members of The 5th Dimension including HistoryMaker Florence LaRue
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo describe how they want to be remembered