William Guest, a longtime member of Gladys Knight and the Pips and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, passed away Thursday in Detroit from congestive heart failure. Guest was 74. “My heart is broken, but I know his legacy will live on,” said Guest’s daughter Monique, who confirmed the singer’s death in a statement to The Associated Press.
Gladys Knight, her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight and their cousins Edward Patten and Guest formed Gladys Knight and the Pips – “Pip” was their nickname for another cousin – in their native Atlanta in 1953. A decade later, the soul group would begin a string of hit singles that would span from 1961 to 1989.
Guest’s background vocals featured on all of the Gladys Knights and the Pips hits, including Motown singles like 1967’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and 1973’s Grammy-winning “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)” as well as their most enduring track, the chart-topping “Midnight Train to Georgia,” one of Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The group’s 1987 single “Love Overboard” also earned the group a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance. Gladys Knight and the Pips disbanded in 1989; seven years later, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The group were also enshrined into the Grammy Hall of Fame for “Midnight Train to Georgia” and recipients of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
In recent years, Guest reunited with “Bubba” Knight for a 2007 Geico commercial and penned his 2013 autobiography Midnight Train From Georgia: A Pip’s Journey with his sister-in-law Dhyana Ziegler. “I am so glad we finished the book, so his wonderful life and legacy will be celebrated throughout eternity,” Ziegler told the AP. “I loved my brother so much.”
The Pips’ Edward Patten passed away in 2005.