Gladys Knight & the Pips joined the Motown Records roster in 1966 (while the band had no “sure hit”), and, although initially regarded as a second-string act by the label, scored several major hit singles, including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (1967) (released later by Marvin Gaye), “Take Me in Your Arms and Love Me” (1967), “The Nitty Gritty” (1969), “Friendship Train” (1969), “If I Were Your Woman” (1970), “I Don’t Want To Do Wrong” (1971), the Grammy Award-winning “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)” (1972), and “Daddy Could Swear (I Declare)” (1973).
In their early Motown career, Gladys Knight and the Pips toured as the opening act for Diana Ross and The Supremes. Gladys Knight stated in her memoirs that Ross kicked her off the tour because the audience’s reception to Knight’s soulful performance overshadowed her. Berry Gordy later told Knight that she was giving his act a hard time.
The act left Motown for a better deal with Buddah Records in 1973, and achieved even greater mainstream success that year with hits such as the Grammy-winning “Midnight Train to Georgia” (#1 on the pop and R&B chart), “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination”, “The Way We Were/Try To Remember” and “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me”.
In the summer of 1974, Knight and the Pips recorded the soundtrack to the film Claudine with producer Curtis Mayfield, which included the songs “On and On”, “The Makings of You” and “Make Yours a Happy Home”. The act was particularly successful in Europe, and especially the United Kingdom.