Sunday, February 27, 2005

The hits you didn't grow up with

I had been thinking about posting something about the Gladys Knight & The Pips and last Friday I heard the sad news that Edward Patten had died of a stroke at age 65. This CNN obituary doesn't say anything about the Pips already having a long career before they signed to Motown. You'd think a Top 10 record in 1961 would be worth mentioning.

Gladys Knight & The Pips started singing together way back in 1952. Gladys was only eight years old. The Pips were originally 3 Knight kids and two cousins. Sam Cooke opened show for the Pips in the Fifties. The group was recording for Fury records in 1961 and had several other big records. Don Covay produced the record which was a Johnny Otis song that was originally a hit for the Orioles.

The Pips arrived at the familiar lineup of Knight and Bubba Knight, William Guest, and Edward Patten in 1962. They also left Fury for Maxx Records which was associated with Vee-Jay records. while at Maxx Records the Pips worked with Van McCoy who also wrote some terrific songs for the group. Gladys Knight doesn't sound like she is only twenty years old. I don't know if this one is considered a northern soul classic or not. If it's not it should be. The Move covered "Stop And Get A Hold Of Myself" for a BBC session.

Motown Records signed the group in 1966 and they had a string of hits there including the original version of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine". Gladys Knight & The Pips were superstars for a few years in the mid-seventies. You can still hear those songs (and some of them are still worth hearing) on any radio station that plays 'the hits you grew up with'. Gladys Knight & The Pips were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.


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