Rhythm and Blues Singer Merald “Bubba” Knight, Jr. was born on September 4, 1942, in Atlanta, Georgia. Knight’s mother, Elizabeth Woods-Knight, was a nurse’s aide, and his father, Merald Knight, Sr., was a restaurant supervisor. Knight’s parents were also singers in the Wings Over Jordan gospel choir. In 1952, at the young age of ten, he and his sisters, Gladys and Brenda, and cousins William and Elenor, formed the musical group the Pips. Knight would go on to graduate from Samuel Archer High School in Atlanta in 1960.
Performing as a singer, Knight and the Pips, along with new members Edward Patten and Langston George, began touring with Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke in the late 1950s as an opening act. In 1961, the Pips produced their first R & B Top-20 hit with a version of Johnny Otis’s Every Beat of My Heart. Then, in 1966, the Pips signed to Motown’s subsidiary, Soul records. The group released their major hit single, I Heard It Through the Grapevine in 1967. Hits that followed included 1968’s The Nitty Gritty, 1969’s Friendship Train, 1970’s If I Were Your Woman, 1971’s I Don’t Want To Do Wrong, and the 1973 Grammy Award-winning Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye). In 1973, the Pips left Motown and signed with Buddah records. Their first album with Buddah was Imagination, which would become their best-selling album. Imagination included the 1974 Grammy-winning song Midnight Train to Georgia. Gladys Knight and the Pips continued to produce hits until 1989, when Gladys decided to leave the group.
Knight has received many awards and honors while involved with Gladys Knight and the Pips. The group has been honored with four Grammy Awards and seven American Music Awards. In 1989, the Pips were inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, and in 1996, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Pips received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1998. In 2001, they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and, in 2006, the Pips were inducted into the Apollo Theater's Hall of Fame in New York.
Knight is married to Kathleen C. A. Knight, and they live in Henderson, Nevada.
Bubba Knight was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 28, 2013.