The picture here of Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. was taken much later than the first time I met them. I first met Marylin McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. at the ABC Recording Studios in West Los Angeles. They, as you might recall were part of the Fifth Dimension, and eventually branched out on their own as a duo, after they got married. Yes…Marilyn singing “Won’t You Marry Me, Bill” was actually a real life proposal by Marilyn to Billy.
The most memorable moment with Billy was when I had to settle and argument between Lamont Dozier, a recording engineer and singer in his own right, and Billy. They all had come in to the studio before I started my shift, and I had just settled in when I heard a commotion in the hallway upstairs. I checked the cameras and saw a couple of people just about ready to start throwing punches. It didn’t take me but a few seconds to get upstairs to the studio door where I found the two arguing over what I heard was the bridge to a song. At that point, I didn’t know too much about music, let alone making records. I was just a disc jockey in training. But I had heard a lot of songs up to that point.
The way the argument was going, I had to stop it first, then I asked Lamont, because I worked with him, what the heck was going on. He told me, “Billy wants words in the damn bridge. The whole point to a bridge is to give the singer a rest. Give them a bar or two to relax.” Billy said, “The words need to be there. It’s supposed to be a chorus, not a bridge.”
“Well,” I said admitting that I was just a guard and a disc jockey wanna-be, “But it seems to me Billy, that if you want words that you’ve already used, and Lamont wants just music, why not get something like some horns or a tenor sax in the middle there to play out the words…then you’ll both be happy!”
They were both looking at me with their eyebrows up by the time I finished. Then they looked at each other, nodding. Lamont gave his thanks, and I told him all I wanted was to stop the fight without any bloodshed…no thanks were needed.
Now, if you listen to the song, the bridge has a sax play out the words to the chorus…just like I suggested with a comprimise of Marilyn doing just a short chorus. The best part is that the song was released and it gave Marilyn and Billy their breakout hit, “You Don’t Have To Be A Star”. I didn’t get any credit in the liner notes. I didn’t get any thanks when it came to awards shows. All I did was settle an argument and make my own bit of music history.
It was much later when the above picture was taken…about 4 or 5 years later…when I was posted at the Los Angeles International Airport and Marilyn and Billy came by on a United flight. As you can see they were all smiles…they did remember me, and probably alway will because I helped make their song more solid.