In early Gladys Knight and the Pips recordings, it is difficult to distinguish tenor Langston George's voice from the lead singer's soprano.
He was a Pip from 1958 to 1962 and is heard on "Every Beat of My Heart," "Letter Full of Tears," "Operator," "You Broke Your Promise" and other hits.
"He was one of the only guys who sang in a group who had a natural tenor voice," said William Guest of Atlanta, an original Pip. "Many of them sang tenor, but they sang in falsetto.
"Some people thought that the Pips were girls, he sang so high."
Ms. Knight was familiar with Mr. George and his talent from joint performances around Atlanta. When two original Pips---Brenda Knight and Elenor Guest---left for college, Ms. Knight asked Mr. George and her cousin Edward Patten to replace them.
Mr. George was the only Pip who was not a family member, Mr. Guest said.
Being a Pip was his dream come true, but the dream ended when he left the group and went to work on the assembly line at the General Motors Doraville plant. He wanted marriage and stability, said his wife, Jean Wilborn George of Atlanta.
He quit the Pips, but he did not quit singing.
The funeral for Langston George Sr., 67, of Atlanta is at 11:30 a.m. today at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. He died of congestive heart failure Saturday at Briarcliff Haven. Carl M. Williams Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Mr. George sang at St. Paul's Episcopal. He sang to packed houses at clubs and music festivals. He sang with the Bill Odom Combo. He sang while building General Motors cars.
That led to his singing the national anthem at the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs baseball game on Sept. 2, 1984. The Braves lost 4-2 despite Mr. George's stirring rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
It was General Motors day at the ball game. The plant asked Mr. George to represent them by singing the national anthem because everyone had heard him sing on the assembly line, Mrs. George said.
He left General Motors on a disability and played a lot of golf at Tup Holmes Golf Course, his wife said. He didn't sing much around his house but would listen to Gladys Knight and the Pips albums.
"As far as range, I heard him sing with Gladys and could not tell whether it was him or Gladys. He had a voice that could turn into soprano," said his daughter, Jeanna George of Chicago. "He had the flexibility to be able to take on the higher notes and also be a tenor. He complemented her voice."
Mr. George was the group's lead singer when Ms. Knight wasn't leading, said Mr. Guest, who compared his voice to Clyde McPhatter and Jackie Wilson.
He was instrumental in arranging some harmony parts for the group, provided entertainment when they were on the road and was the band's banker.
"Langston always had money," Mr. Guest said, and made loans to band members short on cash. He charged interest, but they were glad to pay it. "He was a good businessman," he laughed.
Laughter was what kept them entertained on the road as they spent hours in the car going to gigs.
"We entertained each other telling jokes, and he was a good joke-teller," Mr. Guest said. "Some of his jokes were not that great, but he would get to laughing so that his laugh became the joke."
Other survivors include a son, Langston George Jr. of Atlanta; three sisters, Winifred Walker and Marie Daniels, both of Decatur, and Bessie Wyatt of Atlanta; a brother, Willie George of Decatur; and one grandson.