On this day in music history: January 19, 1974…

On this day in music history: January 19, 1974 – “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination” by Gladys Knight & The Pips hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 on the same date. Written by Gerry Goffin and Barry Goldberg, it is the sixth R&B chart topper for the Atlanta, GA family vocal group. After seven years with Motown Records, Gladys Knight & The Pips depart from the label just as they score one of their biggest hits with the classic “Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)” (#1 R&B, #2 Pop) in early 1973. Buddah Records eagerly snaps up the group and puts them in the studio to work on their first album for the label. Among the people that then label president Neil Bogart has them collaborate with are songwriter and producers Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise. Best known for producing Kiss and The Stories chart topper “Brother Louie”, Kerner and Wise are initially concerned that the group might not want to work with them, being white and Jewish. This does not prove to be problem with Knight and Pips, who love their work on The Stories record. On the day they first meet with the producers, Gladys breaks the ice, exclaiming “hey, you’re white!!!” when they walk into the room, with everyone immediately dissolving into hysterical laughter. Among the dozens of songs reviewed as potential ones to record, they narrow it down to three songs they produce for the group. Among them are “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination” written by veteran songwriter Gerry Goffin (“Will You Love Me Tomorrow”, “The Locomotion”) and Barry Goldberg. The group love the song and agree that it should go on the album. The producers record a demo with singer Tasha Thomas (“Shoot Me (With Your Love)” performing the lead vocal as a guide. The basic track is recorded at Bell Sound Studios in New York City in mid 1973. Afterword, Kerner and Wise fly to Detroit to record Gladys and The Pips vocals on the track at Venture Sound Studios. Capturing Knight’s soulful and fiery lead and the Pips tight and precise harmonies, everyone agrees that it is a smash, and make it the title track of their first Buddah album “Imagination”. Released as the follow up to the classic “Midnight Train To Georgia” in November of 1973, “Imagination” also races up the R&B and pop charts simultaneously. “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination” gives Gladys Knight & The Pips their third million selling single in under a year, becoming one of their best known and loved songs, and a highlight of their live performances for years after.  "I’ve Got To Use My Imagination" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.