The “Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)” by The Fifth Dimension is a great example of 1960s music, and a very good place to start the Pass The Paisley blogs. For, after all, this was to be the dawning of the age of Aquarius. This medley of two songs (that is, “Aquarius” and “Let the Sunshine In”) was written by James Rado, Gerome Ragni, and Galt Macermot for the musical Hair in 1967. The 5th Dimension released their single in 1969, and the track went to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Adult Contemporaries Chart. It eventually was awarded RIAA platinum status. “Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)” was included on The 5th Dimension’s album The Age of Aquarius and won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Group in 1970. Hair was about sex, drugs, rock and roll, and anti-Vietnam War protests, going on to define a genre of the “rock musical.” In the story, some long-haired hippies living in New York City try to fight against conscription into the Vietnam War as well as fight against the conservative views of their parents. The hippies want to live in the Age of Aquarius, an upcoming astrological phenomenon to take us past the Age of Pisces into a new era of peace and love. At the end, the audience was invited for a “be-in. ” (To understand that fully, you had to be there.)
The 5th Dimension, originally called The Versatiles, formed in 1965 in Los Angeles. Their repertoire was quite versatile, covering a number of genres. This included R&B, pop, soul, sunshine pop, and psychedelic soul. The original members were Billy Davis Jr., Florence LaRue, Marilyn McCoo, LaMonte McLemore, and Ron Townson. Besides “Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)” they had hits with “Up, Up and Away,” “Stone Soul Picnic,” Sweet Blindess, “Wedding Bell Blues,” “Working on a Groovy Thing,” and “One Less Bell to Answer,” among many others. There have been personnel changes over the years, but the group continues to tour and perform.