“I suppose what I miss most about the way things used to be would be the way people dress,” says Florence LaRue of the 5th Dimension, appearing Saturday at Cache Creek. “I remember when people were expected to dress up to go to a concert, and if the gentleman didn’t have a jacket, the maitre d’ would loan him one.
“I don’t want to judge by appearances but I have found over the years that a lack of proper dress can mean a lack of manners. Of course, performers are guilty of the same thing, and that sets a tone.”
LaRue is one year shy of celebrating her 50th anniversary with the 5th Dimension, which was in its heyday among the most celebrated vocal ensembles in the industry. It was the 5th that took fans “Up, Up and Away” in beautiful balloons; plucked two songs from the musical “Hair” – “Aquarius” and “Let the Sun Shine In” – and united them for big sales; and went on to record other hits.
“We first called ourselves the Versatiles because we sang all types of music, but after we recorded ‘Go Where You Wanna Go,’ our producer wanted a flashier name,” LaRue says. “We came up with 5th Dimension because there is no fifth dimension and we were unique.”
It was in 1966 that Lamonte McLemore and Marilyn McCoo asked LaRue to join a group they were putting together. “Up, Up and Away” came out the following year, and went on to win five Grammys, including song of the year.
While the 5th Dimension’s lineup has changed over the decades, LaRue has remained the undeniable heart of the group, even if she isn’t always able to keep up with fan trivia.
“It’s too bad Ron Townson (one of the founders) isn’t around anymore because he was the historian of the band,” she says. “He knew and remembered everything. … I have to admit that when an audience member says, ‘Hi, remember me? I was at the show in 1987 and sat in the front row,’ I don’t remember.”
Nearly 50 years of singing the same catalog hasn’t been a chore for LaRue. Far from it. While many singers will admit to some fatigue from performing past material, she does not.
“I do not tire of singing the songs,” she says. “Never. It is good music and it’s about harmony and understanding. I am privileged.” (8 p.m. Saturday; $35, $45, $55; cachecreek.com)