The Pips Trip

Today is the birthday of Gladys Knight, a soulful singer whose name instantly conjures three more words – “… and the Pips.”

That may be a tough notion for any diva to accept, but if Wikipedia is to be believed, at one point in her early career the entire band carried the nickname of her Uncle,  James Woods.

And yes, that means she was just another Pip.

History could have led anywhere from there.  At least it didn’t turn into “The Pips – featuring Gladys Knight.”

Knight was born in Atlanta in 1944, and gave her home state perhaps the finest pop music theme song of all fifty contenders with this classic.

It sounds odd to say it this way, but the song was created with a different title – “Midnight Plane to Houston.”   Writer Jim Weatherly allowed the change to suit a singer who was actually named Houston – Cissy, Whitney’s mother.   Cissy Houston recorded it as “Midnight Train To Georgia” on her debut album as she tried to de-Pipify herself after singing backup for characters like Elvis and Aretha Franklin.

Why is it that hopping a late plane to Houston sounds excruciating, while catching an overnight train to Georgia is romantic?

One can only imagine what it was like to sing that song over and over and over and over and over again as it became a worldwide hit.  I hope somewhere along the way, Gladys Knight felt a powerful sense of affirmation. After all, having a trio of choreographed “yes men” sing your exact words moments after you say them to thousands of adoring fans is the very thing that leads many corporate CEO’s to strive for that corner office.

What would your backup group be called?

85 thoughts on “The Pips Trip”

  1. First thing in the head yhis moening is Madislandgirl and the Lighthouses.

    I think I’ll get some coffee.

    Sectional races today and Saturday-conversation here is dominated by the numbers. Thank goodness all the major academic projects are done so the boy can be as race-happy as he likes.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Jim, I am just back from walking the dogs. Which of course, provides me with thinking time. If you are not comfortable with a suave, dancing group, you could be Jim and the Dutch cloggers, and dress them in knickers and vests. It would be culturally consistant.

        Never give me time to think. This is what happens.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I could never be a cool lead singer with a back up group. That said, I think i would not call my back ups the Dutch Cloggers. Maybe the Devilish Dutchmen. They would need to dress in a way that would be a parody of traditional dress. Maybe hippy style with Dutch wooden shoes that they stomped around in as a back up dance.


  2. Rise and Belt out a Song Baboons!

    If the name is about my not-so-lovely singing voice, The Coverups

    If it is about my life attitude, The Pragmatics

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Just be careful. It sounds very similar to Wendy and the Plasmatics…a band you would not want to be confused with.


  3. Well, I could think of several- Renee and the Flickertails (ND State rodent). I am still dealing with the aftermath of laryngitis, so it could be Renee and the Phlegmatics. Or the Sciatics, Husband says his could be Chris and the Dithers. or the Fantods.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Clyde and the Birchwoods.
    Dale and the Pleasants
    Dr. Kyle and the Mutates
    Bubby and the Spandex
    Bubby and the drifters
    Bubby and the Spam
    Dale and the All-Girl Baboonettes
    Blevin and the Dithers

    Liked by 4 people

    1. tim and the lower case
      Steve and the Westward Hos
      Barbara and the Robins
      Barbra and the Ravines
      Sherilee and the Verilies
      The Captain and Me Hardies
      Rafferty and the Paranoids

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Dr baboon and the pearls
        Loomis beechly and the shoreliners
        Bubbly and the prolonged pubescence
        Dr kyle & the genetic variance
        Skyler Tyler Wyler and the poetic rhyme stylers
        Scoop and the byliners


  5. Sandy and the Disappointments
    We were supposed to go to a annual family reunion at Jax but she is too sick to go.


  6. While Gladys Knight will forever be associated with The Pips, it should be noted that she could certainly hold her own. As shown in this clip when Gladys appeared on The Muppet Show sans Pips.

    If I were to have a backing group, I’d seriously think about having an alias myself. My name is pretty common and doesn’t necessarily lend itself to that spark that gets people’s attention. Let’s see…good band names, especially backing bands…hmmm…
    Phantom Twist
    Melody Mashers
    Knitter Knockers
    The Substraights
    The Clamor Jammers
    The Solo Ensemble
    The Dischord Junket
    The Door Jam Band
    Demented Gophers

    Just off the top of my head.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Lots of good ones today.
    I have a single backup group both for tim and for tgith: The Mad Hatters.

    Since my last name is Sinclair, my group would either be the Claires or the Sinners.
    Or, since I will be retiring in 36 days (but who’s counting?) I could be Lisa and the ShortTimers.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Mad Hatters is already taken. Former bassist for Led Zeppelin, John Paul Jones, said, while he was putting together his bluegrass/rock group with Dave Grohl, that all the good band names were taken. They settled on Them Crooked Vultures.


  8. The Chainsaw Gang. As in Little Jail Bird and the Chainsaw Gang.

    Using Barbara’s idea of a very loud backup group so the lead singer is inaudible.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. The Chainsaw Gang. As in Little Jail Bird and the Chainsaw Gang.

    Using Barbara’s idea of a very loud backup group so the lead singer is inaudible.


  10. My grandson was briefly part of a garage band that couldn’t come up with a name and ended up as the TBDs.

    Did anyone else see a group that played at the smaller theater space at the Ordway years ago? They were an Australian bluegrass group called Blue Grassy Knoll and they played while Buster Keaton silent movies were showing. A great show.


  11. My brother’s junior high school (or maybe high school) band was called the Fourth Moode. My father mentioned them in a family letter and commented, “What is a “moode” and what happened to the other three?” The band had no answers.

    Same brother played in a later band called Dancing with Henry. However there was neither a Henry nor dancing.

    His current band’s name escapes me but I think there’s a fish in the name.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My God do we sound old!! I don’t even know what the names of bands are, much less the back up singers. James Taylor, Jim Croce, Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, Karole King and a touch of John Denver are about the only old time favorites of mine. I still play them because they’re the only songs I know the lyrics to.


  13. tim and the tom toms
    or the timettes
    guys or gals.
    i see spins and hand jive with powder blue tuxs and frilly shirts
    and then theres the guy back ups

    no one did dale
    dale and the bloggers
    dale and the cosmic crusties
    dale and his band of merry blogmates
    con mand and the lost planet bloggers

    Liked by 3 people

  14. plain jane and the danes
    ben and the light show men
    clyde and the sominn slide
    jim and seedy slims
    renee and the soup spooners
    barbara and the dictionaries
    edith and the jailbirds
    jacque and the shrunken heads
    linda and the quotations
    holly and the jukeboxes
    donna and the lost carlos
    the mona lisas
    anna and the kings
    sherrilee and the bookworms
    the guy in the hat and the hat racks
    wes and the sewing machine

    Liked by 1 person

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