LaMonte McLemore Of The 5th Dimension Celebrates 50 Years Of 'Aquarius' And 105 Years Of 'Mama June'
"Up-Up and Away," "Stoned Soul Picnic," Wedding Bell Blues"...their iconic songs made for uplifting sounds of a generation with the medley from Broadway's HAIR, "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" being the "greatest hit" of all. Right now, The 5th Dimension's founder and still-suave mellow bass, LaMonte McLemore is celebrating the 50 year milestone of what would currently be called a "mash-up"-"Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" spent 6 straight weeks at Number 1 on the Billboard Pop Chart in the spring of 1969. "Our music is forever," smiles "Mac" as he's known. About the anthem he continues, "You know what, like the lyrics say, we need 'harmony and understanding' more than ever today...and to let the sun shine upon us all."
It's a special time for McLemore as he's also celebrating the 105th birthday of his mother, coming up on June 3. "Everyone's invited to call her 'Mama June,' welcomes Mac, "But don't get that 'homespun' name wrong, she's still glamorous, and remains as sharp as a tack!" While LaMonte resides in tony Las Vegas, "Mama June" lives in a lovely home in suburban St. Louis, where Mac and his wife Mieko are frequent visitors. It's the city where LaMonte was born to quite different, impoverished times. "I literally slept in a dresser drawer as a baby. Mama June raised me and my three other siblings after my father, bless his heart, split. She never complained, she had a determined ethic. So did her mother, my beloved grandma, who is still my muse." LaMonte shares with his trademark blue-green eyes twinkling, that both women, Mama June and Grandma Gertrude kept it simple with sayings like, "Opportunity always knocks twice...the second time just ain't for you!"
McLemore performed on world stages with The 5th Dimension garnering 6 Grammys, plus countless gold and platinum records, and the praises of luminaries like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. Blazing trails for African American artists, the quintet headlined Vegas, performed on Broadway, appeared on the top variety shows of the day and even had their own network TV specials. "Through it all, my colleagues-Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis, Jr., Florence LaRue, the late Ron Townson, and myself, never took our success for granted...we were all extremely grateful." Today, McLemore is retired from the group but continues to write popular new songs like "Cease Fire"-a call for world peace, and the upcoming,"Take One Step," based on the encouraging maternal advice that inspired him to eventually see the world.
In 2019, McCoo & Davis, the married team, perform as a duo. Florence LaRue performs with a touring version of The 5th Dimension. McLemore is also remembered as the premier photographer for JET magazine's Beauty of the Week feature. His recent memoir, "From Hobo Flats to The 5th Dimension" now in its second edition, was a bona fide literary hit.
The hit maker, photographer and author says proudly, "Celebrating the 50th of 'Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In' and Mama June's 105th on June 3 are both symbolic milestones. My mother always stood for open-hearted inclusiveness just like The 5th Dimension's 'Champagne Soul' sound and clean-cut image united people. Mama June is the only surviving parent of the members of The Original 5th Dimension...and for that and more, she is truly cherished."