5/27/1931 - 3/12/2016

Atlanta blues singer


Tommy Brown  and Gladys Knight & the Pips:

In 1952 at the age of seven, Gladys Knight won a contest on the Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour television show. The next year Gladys, her brother, sister and cousins who attended Booker T. Washington High School, started a singing group called "The Pips" which was named after another cousin and manager.

A well known and successful businessman, Clifford Hunter, ran a local night club where the Pips performed regularly, the "Builders Club" located in NW Atlanta. Clifford wanted to start his own record label and in the first half of 1961 teamed up with R&B legend Tommy Brown. Clifford received an investment of $500. from Tommy Brown, put their names together and called the record label HunTom. A 45 was released by the group emerging from the Vine City neighborhood, the Pips, with 16 year old Gladys Knight singing the 1952 Johnny Otis song "Every Beat of My Heart". The song became popular in the night clubs of the Sweet Auburn District of Atlanta and immediately caught the attention of local radio stations.

Hunter made the decision to license the song to Vee Jay Records while Tommy Brown was on tour out of town. Tommy was not consulted and subsequently cut out of the deal altogether. It became clear that this record was going to require national distribution. The Pips were not under any contract, cut a deal and were flown to New York to recut the song on the Fury label leaving Hunter also out of the phenomenal success that followed.

And the rest, as they say, is history.


The above was pieced together from various sources and verified by Tommy.  Back to Tommy's BIO


For more information, please email us:    info @ tommybrownblues . com