Happy Saturday, Everybody! This week 3 Chics is featuring Gladys Knight & The Pips.
Wiki: Gladys Knight & The Pips were an R&B/soul family musical act from Atlanta, Georgia, active from 1953 to 1989. The group was best known for their string of hit singles on Motown’s “Soul” record label and Buddah Records from 1967 to 1975, including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (1967) and “Midnight Train to Georgia” (1973). The longest-lived incarnation of the act featured Gladys Knight on lead vocals, with The Pips, who included her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight and their cousins Edward Patten and William Guest, as backup singers.
Forming the Pips
Gladys Knight was born May 28, 1944 in Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of seven in 1952, she won Ted Mack‘s Original Amateur Hour television show contest. The following year, she, her brother Bubba, sister Brenda, and their cousins William and Eleanor Guest started a singing group called “The Pips” (named after another cousin, James “Pip” Woods). The Pips began to perform and tour, eventually replacing Brenda Knight and Eleanor Guest with cousins Langston George and Edward Patten in 1959.
The Pips scored their first hit in 1961 with “Every Beat of My Heart“, a cover of a Hank Ballard & The Midnighters song written by Johnny Otis. The group had recorded the song for a friend in Atlanta, who promptly sold the master to Vee-Jay Records and cut the group out of the record’s profits. The Pips recorded a second version of “Every Beat” with Bobby Robinson as the producer, and the song became a #1 R&B and #6 pop hit. Shortly afterwards, Langston George left the group, and the remaining members continued as a quartet, now billed as Gladys Knight & the Pips. Typically, most of the act’s recordings featured Knight’s contralto on lead vocals and the three male members of the group, usually referred to as “The Pips” by themselves, providing characteristic background vocals.