Gladys Knight Biography
Gladys Knight & the Pips were an American R&B, soul, and funk family music group from Atlanta, Georgia, who were prominent on the music charts and on the performance circuit for almost three decades, beginning in the early 1950s.
Gladys Knight won first place on Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour in 1952, when she was eight years old. After a record player malfunctioned during Bubba’s tenth birthday celebration on September 4, 1952, Gladys, Bubba, sister Brenda, and their cousins William and Eleanor Guest began performing together. Following Gladys’ mother Elizabeth Knight’s encouragement, the five agreed to establish a group. They chose the moniker The Pips from their relative James “Pip” Woods’ nickname.
By 1955, the trio had begun playing on the Atlanta talent show circuit, winning every competition they entered. This success enabled them to sign a record deal with Brunswick Records in 1957. The quartet released two albums at Brunswick that did not chart. Despite this, the band was now opening for big-name recording artists like Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke.
Brenda Knight and Eleanor Guest departed the ensemble in 1959, and were replaced by another cousin, Edward Patten, and a non-relative, Langston George. The group’s first big track, “Every Beat of My Heart,” was created by this lineup. In 1961, they changed their name to Gladys Knight & the Pips when the single was published on three different labels. Gladys Knight left in 1962 to have a family with musician Jimmy Newman, and Langston George left the following year. Knight rejoined the group in 1964, and this configuration remained until the group’s dissolution in 1989.
After joining with Motown Records in 1966, the quartet found commercial success. After a year and a half, the group recorded the first hit single version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” in 1967, which led to several hit singles for Motown’s Soul Records label, including “Nitty Gritty,” “Friendship Train,” “If I Were Your Woman,” “I Don’t Want to Do Wrong,” and the Grammy-winning “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)” before leaving for Buddah Records in 1973.
They recorded the singles “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me,” “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination,” “I Feel a Song (In My Heart”),” and “Midnight Train to Georgia” at Buddah, as well as their Grammy-winning and number-one smash single. With producer Curtis Mayfield, they created the soundtrack to the popular film Claudine in 1974, which contained the songs “On and On,” “The Makings of You,” and “Make Yours a Happy Home.” Due to contractual issues with their labels, the group was compelled to create side projects from 1977 until 1980, when they signed with Columbia Records. “Landlord,” “Save the Overtime (For Me),” and the Grammy-winning single “Love Overboard” were later hits. The quartet split in 1989, with the Pips retiring and Knight launching a successful solo career.
Gladys Knight & the Pips have received numerous Grammy and American Music Award nominations and have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1996 and 2001, respectively.
Gladys Knight & The Pips Discography
|Help Me Make It Through the Night|
|I Don’t Want to Do Wrong|
|If I Were Your Woman|
|The Nitty Gritty|
|The End of Our Road|
|I Heard It Through the Grapevine|
|Take Me in Your Arms and Love Me|
|Letter Full of Tears|
|Every Beat of My Heart|
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Did Gladys Knight & The Pips Break Up?
There is no one answer to why Gladys Knight & the Pips broke up. It is likely that a combination of factors played a role, including creative differences, changes in the music industry, and personal circumstances. Whatever the reasons, Gladys Knight & the Pips were one of the most successful and influential groups of their era, and their legacy continues to endure.
Gladys Knight & The Pips?
Gladys Knight & the Pips officially disbanded in 1989, though they had been inactive as a group since 1985. Gladys Knight pursued a solo career, while the other three members of the group – William Guest, Edward Patten, and Merald “Bubba” Knight – formed a new group, The Pips.
What Are Gladys Knight & The Pips’S Biggest Hits?
“Midnight Train to Georgia” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” are two of Gladys Knight & The Pips’s most popular songs. Other well-known tracks include “If I Were Your Woman,” “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye),” and “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.” Gladys Knight & The Pips also had a few chart-topping R&B singles in the 1970s, such as “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” and “Theme from ‘The Greatest’.