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.