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Artist: Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.
Album: I Hope WE Get to Love in Time (ABC)
Writers: James Dean, John Glover
You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show) was a number one hit for Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. in January 1977. It spent 26 weeks on the charts and earned the singers a Grammy Award. The single and the album went Gold.
Husband and Wife Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. took a big chance by embarking on their solo career as a duo.
They were a part of the hugely successful group The Fifth Dimension, which had recorded such hits as Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In, (Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All, One Less Bell to Answer, Wedding Bell Blues, and Stoned Soul Picnic. The group was as bubblegum as it could be, and both artists wanted something more for themselves.
Both felt ready to branch out after they engaged in “EST” or Erhard Seminars Training, one of the self-help or self-actualization courses that managed to dig into the pockets of many a celebrity, including Jeff Bridges, Cher, and Peter Gabriel, among many others. Billy Davis Jr. stated that he was ready to get out of the background, with only the occasional solo. Whatever the case, they made the right decision.
At first, both were meant to have their own separate solo careers. Marilyn McCoo had already recorded several solo tracks in Detroit with producer Don Davis when Billy suggested that they should do an album of duets. The song, from James Dean and John Glover, was not written as a duet but it was rearranged and quickly recorded with Motown session musicians including bassist James Jamerson. It was something much different than anything The Fifth Dimension had done. Neither singer had really tried to emulate the Motown song, let alone the R&B vocal style, yet although the song was a no. one hit as a pop song on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as reaching no. 6 on the Adult Contemporary charts, the duo won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus.
You Don’t Have to Be a Star was actually their first single. The first, I Hope We Get To Love on Time, was only moderately successful, reaching no. 91 on the charts. After You Don’t Have to Be a Star came Look What You’ve Done to My Heart, which also failed to reach the top forty.
They didn’t have any other hits as a duo, but they were both stars, and they did star in each other’s show. Starting on June 15, 1977, the two hosted their own summer variety show on CBS called the “The Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. Show,” which ran for six weeks. You can watch them performing the song on their show below.
If you are not old enough to remember The Fifth Dimension or Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. as a duet, you might still know Marilyn McCoo from television. She hosted the second season of Solid Gold along with Andy Gibb. Gibb left after one season but McCoo hosted another season by herself before leaving, only to return to the series later in its seventh season. She also had a solo career, signed to RCA records. She released several singles, including a duet with Billy, but didn’t have the chart success she did as a duo. Her song, Heart Stop Beating in Time, written by the Bee Gees, became a minor hit. She went on to appear in numerous television shows, including The Love Boat, Night Court, Days of Our Lives, The Fall Guy, Punky Brewster, and more. She also acted in movies, including My Mom’s a Werewolf and Grizzly Adams and the Legend of Dark Mountain, as well as acting on stage in productions of Dreamgirls, Showboat, Man of La Mancha, Anything Goes, and A…My Name is Alice.
Watch Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. Perform ‘You Don’t Have to Be a Star’
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