BETWEEN EACH LINE OF PAIN AND GLORY: My Life Story by Gladys Knight

BETWEEN EACH LINE OF PAIN AND GLORY: My Life Story

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Knight, of pop's Pips, offers an event-packed autobiography--from child gospel sensation through '70s superstardom to Vegas divahood--earnestly but with little verve. First achieving national attention at age eight, in 1952, on Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour, the Atlanta-born Knight was very soon thereafter singing on the ""Chitlin' Circuit"" of black nightclubs with an early incarnation of the Pips (all siblings and cousins). The Pips toured throughout the '50s with the likes of Jackie Wilson and Joe Tex, recording only briefly and unsuccessfully. Knight's first marriage, to her high-school sweetheart, collapsed because of his drug use; her father descended into mental illness and left the family. She indicates that by 1963 the Pips were big enough to have performers at the White House, but it wasn't until the mid-'60s that they signed with Motown, finally breaking through in 1967 with ""I Heard It Through the Grapevine."" Knight is good on the subject of Motown's feudal business practices: Second-tier groups like the Pips would seldom get a crack at the in-house songwriters' best songs, and naive performers accepted company ""gifts"" that in fact were advances against royalties, keeping the artists in debt (and thus servitude) to Motown. Only on leaving Motown did the Pips achieve top stardom with a succession of hits. On the crises in her life--including a gambling addiction and two more failed marriages, most recently to the motivational speaker Les Brown--Knight is so intent on gleaning lessons that she usually fails to render the experiences themselves particularly vividly. Anecdotes of racism and (other people's) high jinks on the road are similarly lifeless. Perhaps more tellingly than she intends, Knight notes of the world of show business: ""I have seen it all, to be sure, but rarely participated in it."" This distance comes through clearly in her memoir.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 1997
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Hyperion