Edward Patten

Singer with Gladys Knight and the Pips

With over 25 hit singles on both sides of the Atlantic, Gladys Knight and the Pips were arguably the most successful family-based soul vocal group of the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties.

Edward Patten, singer: born Atlanta, Georgia 2 August 1939; married Renee Ivory (four sons, three daughters); died Livonia, Michigan 25 February 2005.

With over 25 hit singles on both sides of the Atlantic, Gladys Knight and the Pips were arguably the most successful family-based soul vocal group of the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties.

Best known for their version of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", recorded in 1967, a year before Marvin Gaye's, as well as "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)", the Grammy-winning torch song written by Jim Weatherly, and "Midnight Train to Georgia", which topped the US charts in 1973, the quartet recorded for several companies including Tamla Motown, and only split up in 1989.

They had formed in 1952 when Gladys Knight was just eight years old. By the time they released their début single, "Every Beat of My Heart", in 1961, the group were a quintet comprising Gladys on lead vocals, her brother Merald "Bubba" Knight and their cousins Edward Patten and William Guest, and a friend, Langston George, who left in 1962. Thereafter the group remained a quartet.

Patten had an incredible range and could sing high tenor as well as bass. His voice became the perfect foil for Knight's emotive performances on "Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me" (1974) and standards such as "The Way We Were - Try to Remember" (1975). In her 1997 autobiography, Between Each Line of Pain and Glory, Knight recalls Patten as

the most responsible member of the group, so much so that we took to calling him Daddy Patten. He was the one who was always watching the clock, trying to keep us on time and in line. He was a snappy dresser, and probably the biggest trash talker on the chit'lin' circuit.

Born in Atlanta in 1939, Edward Patten was the son of a bandleader and joined the Pips when Gladys and "Bubba" Knight's sister Brenda and William Guest's sister Eleanor left the vocal group to get married in 1959. Two years later, their first single, "Every Beat of My Heart", became a smash hit on Vee-Jay and also on Fury Records, who signed the Pips and issued a re-recorded version and another three singles, including "Letter Full of Tears" which also made the US Top Twenty.

While their lead vocalist got married and had two children in 1962-63, the Pips struggled along as a trio but Gladys Knight was soon back in the fold. The quartet got a make-over from the tapdancer turned freelance choreographer Cholly Atkins, who helped them hone a stage act which became worthy of their new motto, "Perfection in Performance". Patten especially delighted in learning the pirouettes, slides, freeze-frames and synchronised routines that became the Pips' trademark and were often copied by Motown acts.

Ironically, after releasing five singles on the Maxx label, the group were signed by Berry Gordy Jnr to Motown's Soul subsidiary but never quite became A-listers there despite a memorable run of singles including "Take Me in Your Arms and Love Me" - their first British hit in 1967.

In 1972, Gladys Knight and the Pips moved to Buddah Records and became superstars. They released the album Imagination (1973) and earned Grammies for "Neither One of Us" and "Midnight Train to Georgia" in 1974. They worked with Curtis Mayfield on the ebullient "Make Yours a Happy Home" and were regulars on Top of the Pops, their train-like choreography helping "Georgia" into the British Top Ten in 1976. Contractual problems forced the group to record two albums without Gladys, At Last . . . the Pips (1977) and Callin' (1978), but, by 1980, the quartet was back in the charts with the disco-flavoured "Taste of Bitter Love" and "Bourgie Bourgie".

After 30 years together and another Grammy for the single "Love Overboard", Gladys Knight decided to go solo in 1989. Edward Patten and William Guest went into the ice-cream business before launching Crew Records together.

Pierre Perrone

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015