Puneet Varma (Editor)

Proud Mary

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B-side  "Born on the Bayou"
Format  7" 45 RPM
Length  3:07
Released  January 1969 (1969-01)
Genre  Roots rock, swamp rock
Recorded  1968 at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California

"Proud Mary" is a rock song written by John Fogerty and first recorded by his band Creedence Clearwater Revival. The song was released by Fantasy Records as a single from the band's second studio album, Bayou Country, which was released by the same record company in January 1969. The single is generally considered to have been released in early January 1969 although at least one source states that it came out just before Christmas 1968. The song became a major hit in the United States, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1969, the first of five non-consecutive singles to peak at #2 for the group.


Background and recording

In a 1969 interview, Fogerty said that he wrote it in the two days after he was discharged from the National Guard. In the liner notes for the 2008 expanded reissue of Bayou Country, Joel Selvin explained that the songs for the album started when John Fogerty was in the National Guard, that the riffs for "Proud Mary", "Born on the Bayou", and "Keep on Chooglin'" were conceived by Fogerty at a concert in the Avalon Ballroom, and "Proud Mary" was arranged from parts of different songs, one of which was about a washerwoman named Mary. The line "Left a good job in the city" was written following Fogerty's discharge from the National Guard, and the line "rollin' on the river" was from a movie by Will Rogers.

In the Macintosh program "Garage Band", Fogerty explained that he liked Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, and wanted to open a song with a similar intro, implying the way "Proud Mary" opens with the repeated C chord to A chord. The basic track for "Proud Mary", as with the other songs on the album, was recorded by John Fogerty (lead guitar), Tom Fogerty (rhythm guitar), Stu Cook (bass), and Doug Clifford (drums) at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California, with John overdubbing instruments and all the vocals later.

Solomon Burke version

In 1969 Solomon Burke had a small hit with his cover of the song, which was his second release for Bell and was co-produced by singer Tamiko Jones, who was being rehabilitated after a bout of polio, and was at the time Burke's fiance and manager. Burke recalls: “We went to Muscle Shoals and recorded Proud Mary, which they didn’t like at all. They thought it was stupid to record a song Proud Mary, which was already on the charts. I was explaining to them that it was a very big record, but it’s a very white record, a pop record. We will redo the record, open up the doors for it to get on the r&b charts and make the black stations to play the record... It was a Solomon Burke record made in Muscle Shoals. We proved that we can make a hit record without Jerry Wexler eating sandwiches with us. This record was a hit without anybody’s help. Proud Mary was only promoted by Tamiko Jones and myself.” According to Mark Denning, "While that may have seemed like a bald-faced bid for pop radio play, in Burke's hands the song became a bracing tale of life in the Deep South as African-Americans searched for liberation aboard the ship that carried them as slaves and put them to undignified labor serving wealthy whites."

John Fogerty, the song's composer, was impressed by Burke's version of his song: "Two thousand miles away this man had crawled right up inside my head to learn what Proud Mary was all about. Sure, it's great when someone sings your song, but when he understands it, you listen like it was the first time." "Reworked as a celebration of black consciousness, his potent mix of gospel and country – the kind that defined his earlier sides for Atlantic – and driven by a Southern funk-like strut, .... it returned Burke to the US R&B Top 20", with the single reaching #15 on the R&B charts and #45 on the pop charts. According to Burke in a 2002 interview: "I was in Vegas for sixteen weeks at the Sands Hotel. I missed this record being a hit, because we weren’t there to promote the record, we had no backing. The greatest thing I ever did was tell Ike Turner, “Hey man, you should get on this record… I think you and Tina could tear this thing up.” On 24 May 1969 Burke sang his version of "Proud Mary" on American Bandstand.

Tina Turner versions

Ike & Tina Turner first covered "Proud Mary" in 1970. This version was released as a single from their Workin' Together album and the song differed greatly from the structure of the original, but is also well known and has become one of Tina Turner's most recognizable signature songs. The Turners' version was substantially rearranged by Soko Richardson and Ike Turner. The song started off with a slow, sultry soulful tone in which Tina introduced the song and warned the audience that she and the band were gonna start it off "nice and easy" as "we never do nothing nice and easy" but said they would finish it "nice and rough". After the lyrics are first sung softly by the Turners, the song is then turned into a funk rock vamp with Tina and the Ikettes delivering gospel-influenced vocals. It reached #4 on the pop charts on March 27, 1971, two years to the week after Creedence Clearwater Revival's version was at its peak, and won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group in 1972.

In the Tina Turner biopic, What's Love Got to Do with It, the song is performed in a timeline of events in Ike and Tina's career in which the couple are transformed from an opening act to The Rolling Stones to a major headlining act by the mid-1970s. However, the film took significant liberties with that timeline; for instance, the film has the group performing the song in 1968 when they reportedly opened for The Stones in the UK, the Turners first opened for them in the UK in 1966 and opened for them again in 1969; by that time, the song wasn't in their set list. Following the original version's release and its success, Ike and Tina included the song in their live act and first performed a version of the song on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was also performed in 1971 (the year of the Turners' version's release) and 1974. The Turners performed the song on Soul Train on April 22, 1972.

In 1988, a live solo version was included on the album Tina Live in Europe. Tina Turner later re-recorded the song in the studio for the biopic's 1993 soundtrack album of the same name. This version was released as a promotional single issued to radio stations and DJs. Tina's solo version was later included on her 2004 greatest hits album All the Best. After a contestant's performance of the song on The X Factor in 2010, this version entered the UK Singles Chart at #62 and fell to #121 the next week, it also entered the Scottish Singles Chart at #40.

Another live version was released in 2009 on the Tina Live album. It was recorded on March 21, 2009 in Arnhem, Netherlands as part of Turner's 50th Anniversary Tour. The song has now become a staple in all of Tina's live shows, including live duet versions with Beyoncé and Cher.

Formats and track listings

1993 US 7" and cassette single

  1. "Proud Mary (Edit Live Version) – 4:32
  2. "The Best" (Live) – 5:22

1993 US CD single

  1. "Proud Mary (Edit Live Version) – 4:32
  2. "Proud Mary (Edit) – 4:10
  3. "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" (Live) – 4:55
  4. "The Best" (Live) – 5:22

Chart performance

Ike & Tina Turner version

Year-end charts

Tina Turner version

Certifications and sales

Ike & Tina Turner version


"Proud Mary" placed at #155 on Rolling Stone's 2004 list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Both CCR and Ike & Tina Turner's versions of the song received Grammy Hall of Fame Awards, in 1998 and 2003, respectively.

Other versions

"Proud Mary" has, over the years, been covered by a number of artists, including an early recording by Solomon Burke, and Ed Ames on his 1969 Windmills of Your Mind album. Anthony Armstrong Jones' 1969 version reached number 22 on the U.S. country charts. Also in 1969, a version recorded by the Checkmates, Ltd. and produced by Phil Spector reached #30 on the U.K. Singles Chart and #69 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was featured on their 1969 album, Love Is All We Have to Give. Spiral Starecase released a version of the song on their 1969 debut album, More Today Than Yesterday. Soul singer Billy Paul's version appears on his 1970 album Ebony Woman. The Osmonds released a version of the song on their 1971 album, The Osmonds Live.

When Bruce Springsteen inducted Creedence Clearwater Revival into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, he said:

In addition to playing "Proud Mary" live with his early band, Child, Springsteen performed the song twice with the E Street Band during The River Tour in 1981, and several times from 1982 to 1987 at small clubs, including The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey. On Saturday, May 3, 2014, Springsteen performed the song and "Green River" with John Fogerty during Springsteen's set at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Elvis Presley also often performed the song in his Las Vegas shows and on tour in the early 1970s. Versions can be found on the albums On Stage (1970), Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden (1972) and An Afternoon in the Garden (1972). The song was also performed in the Golden Globe-winning concert film Elvis on Tour (1972).

Neil Sedaka performed the song during a concert Sydney, Australia. It was released on the RCA International album Neil Sedaka On Stage.

George Jones and Johnny Paycheck covered the song on their 1980 album Double Trouble. In 1996, "Proud Mary" was covered by Status Quo on their album Don't Stop and Polish thrash metal band Acid Drinkers recorded it on their 1998 album High Proof Cosmic Milk. In 2010, Marco Mengoni performed the song during his Italian 'Re Matto Tour'.

The Leningrad Cowboys sang "Proud Mary" a cappella at the 1992 Provinssirock festival; this performance was released on the album Live in Prowinzz.

The song is one of many comic cover versions the accordion-based comedy rock band Those Darn Accordions have performed live.

Fictional character Lisa Simpson, voiced by Yeardley Smith, performs the tune in the 1992 episode of The Simpsons, "Lisa the Beauty Queen."

In 2004, Australian Idol season 2 finalist Ricki-Lee Coulter performed "Proud Mary" on the Final 10 60s Night. She received fantastic comments from the judges for this performance and was voted safe on the following verdict show. Ricki-Lee also covered this song on Australian Idol Season 2: The Final 10 Cast Album. The song was also covered three times American Idol. It was covered in 2003 by Trenyce, in 2008 by Syesha Mercado, and in 2012 by Jessica Sanchez. All three were declared safe the next day. In 2009 the song was sung by Rachel Adedeji and Misha B on The X Factor.

The song was covered in the "Wheels" episode of the first season of the television show Glee by Jenna Ushkowitz, Amber Riley and Kevin McHale. The show used Turner's interpretation of the lyrics.

Leonard Nimoy covered the song on his album The New World of Leonard Nimoy; the recording also appeared on his album titled Highly Illogical.

The song was performed by The Chipettes in the Alvin and the Chipmunks episode "Goin' Down To Dixie." An edited version of the song is sung by the slugs at the end of the movie Flushed Away.

Mi Banda El Mexicano recorded a Spanish-language version called "Orgullosa Maria" for their 1993 album Su Majestad Mi Banda EL MEXICANO Con Ustedes, as did Banda Pachuco called Mary la Orgullosa for their 1994 debut album Pachuco Bailarin.

Cambodian rock artist Ros Serey Sothea's song "Cry Loving Me" based its musical arrangement on the tune.

Swiss hard-rock band China recorded a rendition on their 1991 live album titled "Live".

The 2011 drama film Bringing Up Bobby includes a version of "Proud Mary" (based on Ike & Tina Turner's rendition) sung by lead actress Milla Jovovich in her native language, Ukrainian. The recording plays in the background at the beginning of the film.

A version of the song Proud Mary plays in a commercial for the new episodes of the CGI animated children's TV series Dinosaur Train in 2016.

James Bay performed a cover of the song at numerous shows of his Chaos and the Calm Tour, during the encore.


Proud Mary Wikipedia