Midnight Train to Georgia: Gladys Knight's Greatest Hits

Gladys Knight
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Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic

Today - May 28 - marks Gladys Knight's 75th birthday! Throughout her storied career with her group Gladys Knight & the Pips as well as a flourishing solo career, the songstress won seven Grammy Awards over her countless decades of success.

We celebrate the life and enduring hits of the Empress of Soul with a compilation of her greatest hits. What's your favorite Gladys Knight tune?

6. "I Heard It Through The Grapevine"

Written by 1966 singer-songwriter Barrett Strong, “Grapevine,” a first-person narrative of being cheated on, was initially dismissed by Motown head Berry Gordy. With the help of Motown producer Norman Whitfield, the song would evolve into a worldwide classic tale of heartbreak.

Even though the song was initially rejected, (even when Marvin Gaye recorded it), Gladys Knight and the Pips released their 1967 recording of the song in a new, more upbeat arrangement with a gospel-soul delivery and it stuck onto the charts as a number two hit. 

5. "Midnight Train to Georgia"

Country songwriter Jim Weatherly worked up this 1973 hit after he called his actor friend Lee Majors, only to be informed by his then-girlfriend that Majors had taken "a midnight plane to Houston." Whitney Houston's mother Cissy recorded the song in 1973 with two major changes. 

My people are originally from Georgia,” she said, “and they didn’t take planes to Houston or anywhere else. They took trains.” Gladys Knight & the Pips took the single to No. 1 with their groove-oriented rendition, and scored the 1974 Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus.

4. "That's What Friends Are For"

A charming story of serendipitous success, Dionne Warwick headed to the grocery store the night before she was set to record the Dionne & Friends version of "That's What Friends Are For" and bumped heads with Elton John. 

“I said, ‘I’m recording tomorrow and I need you.’ That’s how simple it was,” Warwick reminisced to People. John showed up the next day to record with Warwick and her close colleagues Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder. The four friends would secure Grammy wins for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal as well as Song of The Year. 

3. "Love Overboard"

'Love Overboard’ is a Grammy Award-winning single from 1987. It was the first Top 40 hit for the group in over a decade, and their final Pop Top 40 release as well. It peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

2. "Licence to Kill"

Eric Clapton and Vic Flick were tapped to create the main theme song for the 1989 James Bond movie License to Kill, but at the last minute, the Bond producers commissioned Gladys Knight instead. Knight applies her thunderous vibrato to the Goldfinger-influenced theme song and the resulting title track explodes over clips of Bond fleeing buildings he's blown up. 

1. "Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me"

This soul anthem, also written by songwriter Weatherly, snagged Gladys Knight and The Pips millions in sales and a No. 3 hit on the Hot 100 by April 1974. Country singer Ray Price was the first to score a No. 1 hit with this song, snatching the top title on the country charts. 

BONUS: National Anthem at Atlanta's 2019 Super Bowl 

“I am proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country in my hometown of Atlanta,” Knight shared ahead of her Super Bowl performance. From walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good — I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LIII.” 

Watch the singer belt out the anthem below. 

 

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