Gladys Knight & The Pips were an American R&B/soul family act that were signed to the Motown label in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Gladys Knight, brother Merald “Bubba” Knight, sister Brenda Knight and cousins William Guest and Eleanor Guest founded the group as The Pips in 1952. They initially performed in talent shows before signing to Brunswick Records (the label Jackie Wilson was at) in 1957 with little success. Edward Patten and Langston George (a non-relative) replaced Brenda Knight and William Guest in 1959, and with this line-up (and despite being without a record company) they achieved their first hit with “Every Beat Of My Heart”. Langston George left and they then changed their name to Gladys Knight & The Pips, despite Gladys then leaving 1962 to start a family (luckily she returned in 1964).
They signed to Motown’s Soul label in 1966, at first struggling with being treated like a second-class act (what!!?), but found significant commercial success at the label through the late 1960s to the early 1970s. They collaborated with songwriter-producer Norman Whitfield on many of their songs. The group left Motown for Buddah Records in 1972 and enjoyed equal success in the 1970s with songs like “Midnight Train To Georgia” and “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination”, even disco hits like “Baby, Don’t Change Your Mind”.
Contractual difficulties meant they signed with Columbia in 1980; they nevertheless continued their successful career throughout the decade, until The Pips retired in 1989 (I don’t blame them) and Gladys Knight (who had already begun recording as a solo artist and done some acting) embarked on an equally-successful solo career.
They have won several music awards, and were even inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Gladys is still active today, and brother Bubba Knight continues to oversee her career.
Marvellous Motown currently recommends six songs by Gladys Knight & The Pips – click on the link above for our archive or click on a specific song below: