December 3, 1967, London
From the memorable day when Dave Godin first plays me the ultra soulful “Giving Up” by Gladys Knight & The Pips in 1965 a year after its original release in America to my purchase of the hard-to-find Maxx LP by the family group and hearing tunes like ‘Either Way I Lose’ and ‘Maybe Maybe Baby,’ the idea of seeing Gladys Knight & The Pips live onstage in London seems at best remote, given they are barely known in the UK outside the cadre of dedicated R&B lovers.
After signing with Motown Records, the quartet’s fortunes change and within a year “Take Me In Your Arms & Love Me” is riding high on the British charts. Soul music, Motown and Stax artists included is gaining momentum, witness the increasing number of US artists performing in Britain – check out the poster listing Eddie Floyd, Chris Clark and others.
Imagine the thrill of walking around the corner from Soul City (the record store on Monmouth Street in which Dave Godin, Robert Blackmore and I are partners) on to Shaftesbury Avenue and seeing ‘Gladys Knight & The Pips’ on the marquee of The Saville Theatre! Joe Tex listed on the same bill on Sunday Dec 3 is a no-show replaced by the UK’s Alan Price.
While my own memories of the actual night aren’t vivid, a review by Lon Goddard notes the group elicits three encores after an amazing show that includes early hit, ‘Every Beat Of My Heart’ and latest Motown chartbuster, ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ and the quartet’s renowned choreography. That Gladys & The Pips are bringing the house down in London is a wonderful validation of the growing universal appeal of soul music and augers well for the year ahead which will bring none other than Aretha among others to our shores