Born in St. Louis, McLemore dreamed of playing baseball, and pitching for the Cardinals, or try his other fascination; photography. After breaking his arm while playing for a Dodger farm team, photography won.
Early in his photography career he shot models for Harper's Bazaar in Los Angeles - becoming the first African American photographer hired - for Johnson's publications, Jet and Ebony, and to land a few photo assignments for Playboy Enterprises. He was also chosen to shoot Stevie Wonder's first album cover. McLemore has been a photographer for Jet and Ebony magazines for over forty years.
Then photography took a back seat. While in the Navy, he developed an interest in music. In the early 1960s, Lamonte and Marilyn McCoo, a former beauty pageant winner, got together with two other friends from Los Angeles, Harry Elston and Floyd Butler, to form a group called the Hi-Fis. In 1964, they came to the attention of Ray Charles, who took them on tour with him the following year. He produced a single by the group, "Lonesome Mood," but internal disagreements caused Butler and Elston to go their own way, eventually leading to their organizing the Friends of Distinction.
Lamonte sought to form another group and started looking for members to join him and McCoo. One was Florence LaRue, who had received training as a youngster in singing, dancing, and violin, and who also won the talent portion, as McCoo had the year prior, at Miss Bronze California.
At about the same, Lamonte recruited an old friend of his, Ron Townson, who at age six had started singing in choirs and gospel groups in his hometown of St. Louis.
Lamonte's cousin, Billy Davis, Jr., started singing in gospel choirs at an early age. He later saved enough money to buy a cocktail lounge in St. Louis, which he used as a base for experimenting with various musical groups. When asked, he agreed to join his cousin's new group.
The 5th Dimension were best-known during the late 1960s and early 1970s for popularizing the hits "Up, Up and Away," "Wedding Bell Blues," "Stoned Soul Picnic," "One Less Bell to Answer", "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep at All," and "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In."
in addition to Lamont, they were Billy Davis, Jr., Florence LaRue, Marilyn McCoo and Ron Townson. Some of the songwriters popularized by The 5th Dimension later went on to careers of their own, especially Ashford & Simpson, who wrote "California Soul." The group is also notable for having more success with the songs of Laura Nyro than Nyro did, particularly in the cases of "Wedding Bell Blues" and "Stoned Soul Picnic," and "Save the Country."
They also became great interpreters of the songs and music of Jimmy Webb, who penned their original mega-hit "Up, Up, and Away," including an entire recording of memorable Webb songs called The Magic Garden which included the clever song "Paper Cup."
The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002.