A letter arrives from Sophonisba Gullsbeak:
Dear Mr Key, I am writing to ask for your help. I have been commissioned by an important publishing house to compile A Dictionary Of Fruit-Related Popular Music Nomenclature. It has all been going swimmingly, but at the letter P I have reached an impasse. It has proved beyond my considerable wit to discover from what type of fruit the legendary Pips who accompanied soul singer Gladys Knight were eked. It goes without saying that readers of my dictionary will expect chapter and verse on this one, and the book would prove a sorry specimen indeed if it did not include this crucially important information. Given the astounding depth and breadth of your erudition in oh! so many spheres, it occurred to me that you could well be in possession of the pip-facts, daddy-o, as the young persons might say. I would be immensely grateful if you could tell me, by return of post, the answer to my query, with references if possible. Yours pleadingly, Sophonisba Gullsbeak (Miss).
I am afraid to say that I haven’t got a clue. Dobson, the titanic pamphleteer of the twentieth century, compiled a similar Dictionary Of Fruit- And Nut-Related Jazz And Blues Nomenclature (out of print), but the soul music of Gladys Knight And The Pips fell outwith his frame of reference. All I can suggest is that perhaps you obtain high-definition photographic enlargements of the pips of every fruit-with-pips you can think of, and then compare these with photographs of the Pips. It is possible you might be able to note certain striking resemblances. Of course, it is equally possible you might not.
By the way, I cannot help wondering if you, like your namesake Sophonisba Peale, daughter of the American painter, soldier, scientist, inventor, politician, and naturalist Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) have three brothers named Raphael, Rembrandt, and Rubens. Do let me know.
A glance at A high-resolution copy of Wikipedia would do the trick: ‘The following year, she, her brother Bubba, sister Brenda, and their cousins William and Eleanor Guest started a singing group called “The Pips” (named after another cousin, James “Pip” Woods).’
A more pressing question, then, is why *he* was called Pip.