Category: gladys knight & the pips

On this day in music history: December 2, 1967 – “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & The Pips hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 6 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 for 3 weeks on December 16, 1967. Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, it is the biggest hit for the Atlanta, GA based R&B vocal quartet. Riding a wave of success writing and producing a string of hits for The Temptations, Norman Whitfield and his main songwriting partner Barrett Strong write “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” during this period in mid to late 1966. Whitfield cuts the song on The Miracles and The Isley Brothers, with both of their versions going unreleased (initially). Undaunted, the producer records it again in a dramatic rearrangement with Marvin Gaye in the Spring of 1967. The song is rejected by Motown’s Quality Control department as being “too different” and uncharacteristic of the Motown Sound. Gaye’s version is also shelved as a result of this rejection. Still believing strongly in the song, Whitfield asks Berry Gordy, Jr. if he can cut it on another artist. Gordy agrees, and the producer returns to the studio to cut the new version with Gladys Knight & The Pips. Inspired by Aretha Franklin’s recent smash “Respect”, Whitfield gives his song a similar “funky and earthy” arrangement. Featuring The Funk Brothers providing the musical backing, Whitfield plays the completed track for Gladys Knight & The Pips who work out their own vocal arrangement for the song. The group record their vocals at Motown’s Studio A in Detroit on June 17, 1967. Released as a single on September 28, 1967, initially Motown puts little promotional support behind it, and the group themselves actually approach DJ’s to encourage them to play the single. The strategy works and the record takes off within a month of its release, also crossing over to the pop charts and selling nearly two million copies in the US alone.

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On this day in music history: October 27, 1973 – “Midnight Train To Georgia” by Gladys Knight & The Pips hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 4 weeks on October 20, 1973. Written by Jim Weatherly, it is the first pop, and fourth R&B chart topper for the legendary vocal quartet from Atlanta, GA. Songwriter Jim Weatherly pen a number of hits for Gladys Knight & The Pips over the years including “Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)”, “Where Peaceful Waters Flow”, and “Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me” to name a few. The classic “Midnight Train To Georgia” was originally titled “Midnight Plane To Houston” and had been recorded by Cissy Houston in 1972, though her version will not be a hit. When Gladys Knight & The Pips sign with Buddah Records in early 1973, they will work with producer Tony Camillo (Tony Camillo’s Bazuka) on “Imagination”, their first album for the label. The basic track is recorded at Camillo’s studio in Somerville, NJ with former Funk Brothers Andrew Smith (drums) and Bob Babbitt (bass), along with Barry Miles (piano) and Camillo himself (electric piano). Knight and The Pips record their vocals Artie Fields Recording Studio in Detroit. Issued as their second single on Buddah in August of 1973, it is an immediate smash, simultaneously climbing the pop and R&B singles charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #71 on September 1, 1973, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. “Midnight Train To Georgia” wins the group a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group, one of two awards they receive in 1974 (also winning the pop group award for “Neither One Of Us”). “Midnight Train To Georgia” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 28, 1983 – “Save The Overtime (For Me)” by Gladys Knight & The Pips hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #66 on the Hot 100 on July 2, 1983. Written by Rickey Smith, Joey Gallo, Bubba Knight, Gladys Knight and Sam Dees, it is the eighth chart topping single for the veteran R&B vocal group fronted by lead singer Gladys Knight. The collaboration between Knight and songwriter Dees comes about when he works with her on a solo album a couple of years before. Dees conceives the initial idea for “Save The Overtime” while staying in Gladys’ guest house in Las Vegas. The pair finish writing the song with Knight’s brother Bubba and Rickey Smith and Joey Gallo, both staff writer/producers with Leon Sylvers III’s Silverspoon Productions. The track also features members of Solar Records house band that have played on hits by The Whispers, Shalamar, and Dynasty. The songs music video is directed by choreographer Kenny Ortega (“Dirty Dancing”, “Michael Jackson’s This Is It”) and is one of the first mainstream clips to feature street dancing such as popping, locking and break dancing. Released as the first single from the groups nineteenth studio album “Visions” in February of 1983, the single is a solid hit on R&B radio, though stalls on the pop charts. The record is also a sizable club hit (#18 Club Play), thanks to an extended 12" remix by John Luongo. The success of “Save The Overtime (For Me)” drives the “Visions” album to Gold status in the US, their fourth to reach that sales plateau.

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Born on this day: May 28, 1944 – R&B vocal legend Gladys Knight (born Gladys Maria Knight in Atlanta, GA). Happy 75th birthday to the “Empress Of Soul”!!

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On this day in music history: May 11, 1980 – “About Love”, the sixteenth studio album by Gladys Knight & The Pips is released. Produced by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, it is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in New York City and A&M Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA from January – March 1980. Rising to their greatest success during the first half of 70’s, by later part of the decade, Gladys Knight & The Pips see their career abruptly go off of the rails. In 1977, the family group find themselves in the middle of two lawsuits with Motown Records, and with Buddah Records after being asking to be released from their contract. Their legal issues with both labels prevent them from recording together for nearly three years. Still tied to Buddah Records, Gladys records her first solo album for the label in 1978 before moving to Columbia to record a second solo effort in 1979. The Pips are briefly signed to Casablanca Records and cut two disco flavored albums (one produced by Arthur Wright and the other by Bunny Sigler) in 1977 and 1978, receiving only minimal notice. With their record company issues behind them by late 1979, The Pips reunite with Gladys at Columbia Records. For their first new album in nearly two years, the group are paired with Ashford & Simpson, who write and produce the project. Having known each other since their stints at Motown, the collaboration turns out to be an inspired one. The first glimpse of “About Love” comes in March of 1980, with the single “Landlord” (#3 R&B, #46 Pop). The mid tempo groove is warmly received by the groups long time fans, returning them to the top ten on the R&B chart for the first time since 1977. It’s followed by “Taste Of Bitter Love” (#38 R&B) and “Bourgie’, Bourgie’” (#46 R&B) during the Spring and Summer. “Bourgie’” had been originally recorded by Nick and Val on their 1977 album “Send It”, but as an instrumental only. Nick Ashford pens lyrics to go with the plush groove he and his wife Valerie had previously composed. Though not major chart or airplay hits, both singles become club classics when both tracks are issued as a coveted promo only 12" single (in the US, released commercially overseas). The album puts Gladys Knight & The Pips back on track for their fourth decade in the music business, leading them to work with Ashford & Simpson again on the follow up release “Touch” in 1981. Originally released on vinyl and cassette only, “About Love” goes out of print for nearly thirty years, before being remastered and making its belated CD debut in 2010. It is reissued by Big Break Records, and includes the edited versions of all three singles as additional bonus tracks. “About Love” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number forty six on the Top 200.

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On this day in music history: April 6, 1974 – “Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me” by Gladys Knight & The Pips hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on April 27, 1974. Written by Jim Weatherly, it is the seventh R&B chart topper for the Atlanta, GA based family vocal quartet. Country music songwriter Weatherly (“Midnight Train To Georgia”, “Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye”), writes “Best Thing" in 1971 and is originally recorded by country music legend Ray Price. Gladys Knight & The Pips record their version two years later, shortly after being signed to Buddah Records. Already having scored two major hits penned by Weatherly, the song is the third consecutive R&B chart topper from the groups “Imagination” album. Like the two prior singles “Midnight Train To Georgia” and “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination”, “Best Thing” is another pop and R&B smash. It becomes the group’s third consecutive number one single on the R&B chart, and third consecutive top five pop single on the Hot 100. “Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: March 17, 1973 – “Neither One Of Us (Wants To The First To Say Goodbye)” by Gladys Knight & The Pips hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 4 weeks, also peaking at #2 for 2 weeks on April 7, 1973. Written by Jim Weatherly, it is the third R&B chart topper for the veteran vocal quartet from Atlanta, GA. Penned by songwriter Jim Weatherly (“Midnight Train To Georgia”, “The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me”), it is the first single and title track to Gladys Knight & The Pips’ final album on Motown’s Soul Records subsidiary. Signed to Motown since 1966, the group score a successful string of top 40 R&B and pop hits. In spite of this, they feel that they are not given the same attention and promotional support that many of the labels Detroit born acts are afforded, feeling like outsiders in the often “clannish” atmosphere around the label. So when Buddah Records comes calling in early 1973, just as their Motown contract is expiring, they seize the opportunity and sign with them. Released as a single in December of 1972, “Neither One Of Us” quickly becomes a smash on the R&B and pop singles chart. When Gladys Knight & The Pips version is entering the charts in January of 1973, country singer Bob Luman’s cover of the song is charting concurrently on the Billboard Country singles chart, peaking at #7 on April 7, 1973. The single wins the group their first Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group in 1974. They also win the Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo Or A Group Grammy the same year for “Midnight Train To Georgia”. In later years, the song is covered several more times, including versions by Linda George, Bob Luman, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Jaya, and David Sanborn. Gladys Knight & The Pips version is sampled as the basis of R&B singer Angie Stone’s hit “No More Rain (In This Cloud)” in 1999.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: December 2, 1967 – “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & The Pips hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 6 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 for 3 weeks on December 16, 1967. Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, it is the biggest hit for the Atlanta, GA based R&B vocal quartet. Riding a wave of success writing and producing a string of hits for The Temptations, Norman Whitfield and his main songwriting partner Barrett Strong write “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” during this period in mid to late 1966. Whitfield cuts the song on The Miracles and The Isley Brothers, with both of their versions going unreleased (initially). Undaunted, the producer records it again in a dramatic rearrangement with Marvin Gaye in the Spring of 1967. The song is rejected by Motown’s Quality Control department as being “too different” and uncharacteristic of the Motown Sound. Gaye’s version is also shelved as a result of this rejection. Still believing strongly in the song, Whitfield asks Berry Gordy, Jr. if he can cut it on another artist. Gordy agrees, and the producer returns to the studio to cut the new version with Gladys Knight & The Pips. Inspired by Aretha Franklin’s recent smash “Respect”, Whitfield gives his song a similar “funky and earthy” arrangement. Featuring The Funk Brothers providing the musical backing, Whitfield plays the completed track for Gladys Knight & The Pips who work out their own vocal arrangement for the song. The group record their vocals at Motown’s Studio A in Detroit on June 17, 1967. Released as a single on September 28, 1967, initially Motown puts little promotional support behind it, and the group themselves actually approach DJ’s to encourage them to play the single. The strategy works and the record takes off within a month of its release, also crossing over to the pop charts and selling nearly two million copies in the US alone.

On this day in music history: October 27, 1973 – “Midnight Train To Georgia” by Gladys Knight & The Pips hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 4 weeks on October 20, 1973. Written by Jim Weatherly, it is the first pop, and fourth R&B chart topper for the legendary vocal quartet from Atlanta, GA. Songwriter Jim Weatherly pen a number of hits for Gladys Knight & The Pips over the years including “Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)”, “Where Peaceful Waters Flow”, and “Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me” to name a few. The classic “Midnight Train To Georgia” was originally titled “Midnight Plane To Houston” and had been recorded by Cissy Houston in 1972, though her version will not be a hit. When Gladys Knight & The Pips sign with Buddah Records in early 1973, they will work with producer Tony Camillo (Tony Camillo’s Bazuka) on “Imagination”, their first album for the label. The basic track is recorded at Camillo’s studio in Somerville, NJ with former Funk Brothers Andrew Smith (drums) and Bob Babbitt (bass), along with Barry Miles (piano) and Camillo himself (electric piano). Knight and The Pips record their vocals Artie Fields Recording Studio in Detroit. Issued as their second single on Buddah in August of 1973, it is an immediate smash, simultaneously climbing the pop and R&B singles charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #71 on September 1, 1973, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. “Midnight Train To Georgia” wins the group a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group, one of two awards they receive in 1974 (also winning the pop group award for “Neither One Of Us”). “Midnight Train To Georgia” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: April 6, 1974 – “Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me” by Gladys Knight & The Pips hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on April 27, 1974. Written by Jim Weatherly, it is the seventh R&B chart topper for the Atlanta, GA based family vocal quartet. Country music songwriter Weatherly (“Midnight Train To Georgia”, “Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye”), writes “Best Thing" in 1971 and is originally recorded by country music legend Ray Price. Gladys Knight & The Pips record their version two years later, shortly after being signed to Buddah Records. Already having scored two major hits penned by Weatherly, the song is the third consecutive R&B chart topper from the groups “Imagination” album. Like the two prior singles “Midnight Train To Georgia” and “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination”, “Best Thing” is another pop and R&B smash. “Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.