Video Vault: Gladys Knight at 1983 Cleveland Plumfest

R&B concert drew 40,000 people

CLEVELAND - Gladys Knight and the Pips were part of a monster lineup of stars playing at Cleveland Stadium in 1983.

Billed as "Plumfest," Gladys Knight and the Pips shared the evening with Aretha Franklin, the Temptations, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, and other R&B acts.

WEWS reporter Obie Shelton and yours truly covered the event and had the pleasure to interview Gladys Knight. I’ve put Shelton’s story in the video player as well as the raw concert clip used for his story.

A crowd of 40,000 saw the concert that Aug. 13 night.

Plumfest took its name from a civic-pride promotion started by the Plain Dealer using the phrase "Cleveland’s a plum."

The paper inserted bumper stickers with the phrase and newspaper boxes were outfitted with the phrase. The larger context for the plum came from New York City’s Big Apple moniker – “New York may be the Big Apple but Cleveland’s a plum.”

Many years later, Gladys accompanied her then-husband Les Brown to Cleveland for an appearance at Cuyahoga Community College. They made a side trip here to WEWS so Brown could be interviewed about his talk show.

All went well until it was discovered they were stranded here at WEWS when their limo didn’t show up. Videographer Steve Cummings sprung into action, cleaning out his news car so he could take the famous duo to Tri-C in his news car/limo.

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