In the rock era, only two Broadway musicals have produced #1 singles: Louis Armstrong’s title song from Hello, Dolly! and a medley of two songs from the 1968 hippie musical Hair. BR1 The latter would never have happened if Billy Davis, a member of the Fifth Dimension, hadn’t lost his wallet in a New York City cab. SJ The passenger who found the wallet and called Billy was one of the producers of Hair. To show his gratitude, Billy invited the man and his wife to see the Fifth Dimension in concert. The producer, in turn, invited the group to a performance of Hair. BR1
Before the group even left the theater, they knew they should record “Aquarius.” BR1 When they suggested it to Bones Howe, their producer, AMG his response was that “It’s half a song…it needs something on the back end.” BR1 The group paired the song with “Let the Sunshine In,” also from the play. SJ The resulting medley not only became the biggest hit of 1969 WHC but the “biggest and most lasting record” AMG of the Fifth Dimension’s career.
“Aquarius” is based on the idea that by the close of the 20th century, mankind would enter an age of enlightment. BB100 That concept and the song’s astrological references were perfectly suited to the hippie vibe of 1969. AMG Such ideas may seem dated today, but the song’s overall message of unity is timeless. AMG
- one of the top 100 songs of the rock era, according to the DMDB
- one of the top 1000 songs of all time
- The American Film Institute (AFI)’s 100 Years…100 Songs
- Cash Box’s Top 100 Songs, 1958-1996
- Grammy Award for Record of the Year
- Grammy Hall of Fame
- one of the top 100 songs of the 1960s
- top 100 adult contemporary songs of all time
Resources and Related Links:
- DMDB page for “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In”
- DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry for The Fifth Dimension
- AMG All Music Guide
- BB100 Billboard (9/08). “All-Time Hot 100”.
- BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 253.
- SJ Bob Shannon/John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York, NY; Warner Brothers, Inc. Page 27.
- WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 94.
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