Song: “Midnight Train To Georgia” by Gladys Knight & The Pips
Reached #1: October 27, 1973 (their first, 2 weeks)
Gladys Knight & The Pips started as a Motown band… they were kind of “bench strength” for the Motor City label, doing the first version of songs that were later given to top-tier Motown artists. One of their two biggest Motown hits, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, hit #2 on the pop charts before Marvin Gaye was given the song (and took it to #1).
Perhaps that’s why they didn’t reach #1 until leaving Motown for Buddah Records. This was the group’s first Buddah single, and it became their first #1 pop hit.
Thing is, this started out as a country song. Jim Weatherly wrote and performed the song as “Midnight Plane To Houston”. Weatherly was asked if he’d mind if Cissy Houston did the song – but she wanted to change the hook to “Midnight Train To Georgia”. Weatherly’s reply? “Sure, just don’t change the rest of the song”. Gladys Knight & The Pips got the song from Weatherly’s publisher, and it became one of five Weatherly tracks that the group would eventually record.
For much of the late ‘70s, contract issues caused Knight and the Pips to record separately. Once both moved to Columbia Records in 1980, they got back together – and the group lasted another decade before the Pips retired, leaving Knight to go solo, in 1989.
Tomorrow, an Atlanta-based rapper gets the girls to shake it…
Other songs that reached #1 on October 27:
1990 – “Black Cat” by Janet Jackson (her fourth, 1 week)