Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In

Single by The 5th Dimension
from the album The Age of Aquarius
Released March 1969
Genre Psychedelic soul, sunshine pop
Length 4:49
Label Soul City
Songwriter(s) James Rado
Gerome Ragni
Galt MacDermot
Producer(s) Bones Howe
The 5th Dimension singles chronology
“California Soul”
(1969) “Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)”

“Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)” (commonly called “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In”, “The Age of Aquarius” or “Let the Sunshine In”) is a medley of two songs written for the 1967 musical Hair by James Rado & Gerome Ragni (lyrics), and Galt MacDermot (music), released as a single by American R&B group The 5th Dimension. The song peaked at number one for six weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart in the spring of 1969. The single topped the American pop charts and was eventually certified platinum in the US by the RIAA. Instrumental backing was written by Bill Holman and provided by session musicians commonly known as the Wrecking Crew. The actual recording is something of a “rarity”; the song was recorded in two cities, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, then mixed together in the studio, afterwards.

The song listed at number 66 on Billboard’s “Greatest Songs of All Time”.

This song was one of the most popular songs of 1969 worldwide, and in the United States it reached the number one position on both the Billboard Hot 100 (for six weeks in April and May) and the Billboard Adult Contemporaries Chart. It also reached the top of the sales charts in Canada and elsewhere. Billboard ranked it as the No. 2 record overall for 1969.

The recording won both the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Group for the Grammy Awards of 1970, after being published on the album The Age of Aquarius by the 5th Dimension, and also being released as a seven-inch vinyl single record.

Cover versions

The crowd at the Woodstock Festival (August 1969) sang the song. The recording is featured on the double album Woodstock Two (released 1971).
Donna Summer, then Donna Gaines, was cast in the German version of the musical singing the lead in Wassermann (Aquarius), in 1968.
Checkmates, Ltd. released a version of the song as part of “The Hair Anthology Suite” on their 1969 album, Love Is All We Have to Give.
Ray Stevens recorded “Aquarius” for his 1969 studio album Have a Little Talk with Myself.
Cilla Black recorded the song for her 1969 studio album Surround Yourself with Cilla.
Engelbert Humperdinck recorded a cover of the song on his 1969 self-titled album.
Andy Williams released a version in 1969 on his album, Get Together with Andy Williams.
Mercy released a version of the song on their 1969 album, Love Can Make You Happy.
Diana Ross recorded a cover on the Supremes’ 1969 Let the Sunshine In album but, without The Supremes; it was a solo recording sung on The Dinah Shore Television Special 1969 with background vocalists from the Television Special.
The instrumental band the Ventures covered the medley on their 1969 album Hawaii Five-O.
“Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” was also covered by the Osmonds on the 1970 album, Hello! The Osmond Brothers.
The Undisputed Truth recorded a version called “Aquarius” for their 1971 self-titled LP.
Charles Earland, a jazz Hammond organ player, recorded a version of this song in his album Black Talk.
George Shearing, a piano player, recorded a version of the song in 1974 on the album The Way We Are.
Ren Woods sang the song in the opening scene of the 1979 film adaption of the play. A soundtrack album was subsequently released, which featured her version as the first track on the A side.
Pop-gabber Dutch band Party Animals covered “Aquarius” on their debut album Good Vibrations in 1996. The single was certified Platinum and peaked at the number one position for three weeks.
A cover of the medley was recorded for the Killdozer / Alice Donut split single “Michael Gerald’s Party Machine! Presents:”, released in 1996. It was credited to “Kill Donut”, a one-off band consisting of members of both bands.
The lyrics “Let the Sunshine In” from the song “Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In” are sampled in “One More Time (The Sunshine Song)” by Australian Electronic Artist Groove Terminator.
The “Let the Sunshine In” portion of the medley was covered by Swedish dance group Army of Lovers on their 2000 album Le Grand Docu-Soap. Their version also included most of the original verses (with some changes) performed as a pseudo-rap by group member Dominika Peczynski.
Lightspeed Champion covered the song on his Domino Records special edition covers EP. The track is listed as “The Flesh Failures”.
Star Academy Arab World season one finalist students covered the song and made it as their first single, known as Jay Al-Hakyka.
Spencer Davis Group single “Aquarius Der Wasserman” b/w “Let the Sunshine In”, was released because Davis studied German in college and found tour audiences there so appreciative, he decided to honor their support with a version of this pop hit in German.
The German krautrock/progressive rock band Jeronimo on their 1970 album Cosmic Blues.
Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll and the Trinity recorded this song on their album “Streetnoise” Brian Auger & The Trinity (1969).
The Austrian singer Marianne Mendt recorded a German-language version of “Aquarius” about the City of Vienna in 1970 named “Der Wasserkopf (Aquarius)”.
The Chopsticks (a Hong Kong female duo, made up of Sandra Lang & Amina (亞美娜)), covered this medley song on their 1971 LP All of a Sudden.
Jackie Davis released a cover of “Aquarius” under his moniker, “Chico Arnéz”. The track, Chico Arnez – “Aquarius” features on his album New Sounds of Chico Arnez, released on Contour records in 1972.
Hans Zimmer recorded a cover version for the introductory section to the 1990 movie Bird on a Wire, listed on the soundtrack as “Aquarius”.
The cast of the 2005 film The 40-Year-Old Virgin covered the song for the ending of the film.
The “Let the Sunshine In” portion of this medley was covered by Lisa Cool and the South Spirit for the rhythm dance game Pump It Up: The PREX 3.
“Let the Sun Shine”, an Ibiza-inspired re-make of the “Let the Sunshine In” portion of this medley was released by the German housemusic duo Milk & Sugar in 2003. In 2009, they released a remix featuring Jamaican vocalist Gary Pine and Bob Sinclar entitled “Let The Sun Shine 2009.”
Edurne, a Spanish singer, recorded “Aquarius” for her album Première (álbum) (es).
Les Poppys, a French musical group of 17 children, recorded ‘Laissez entrer le soleil/Let the sun shine in’, a French/English cover of ‘Let the sun shine in’, in 1971 for their first album called Poppys.
Digital Daggers recorded a cover that was featured on the television show Star-Crossed, and appeared on their album Reimaginations, Vol. 1.
The Forest Rangers covered the song and it was played during the last few minutes of Sons of Anarchy S07E05.
Mike Doughty interpolated the “Let the Sunshine In” portion for his song “Fort Hood” off of his album Golden Delicious.
Shannon Mier covered the song on his 2003 album On the Failure of Science to Understand My Spirit.
Kanye West produced the song “Sunshine” for Mos Def’s second album The New Danger (2004), employing the “Let the Sunshine In” portion throughout the song.

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