Proud Mary

"Proud Mary" is a rock ’n’ roll song written by John Fogerty and first recorded by his band Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was released by Fantasy Records as a single from the band's second studio album, Bayou Country, which was issued by the same record company in January 1969. The single is generally considered to have been released in early January 1969,[1][2] although at least one source[3] states that it came out just before Christmas 1968. The song became a major hit in the United States, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1969, the first of five singles to peak at No. 2 for the group.[5] It was blocked from #1 by "Dizzy" by Tommy Roe.[6]

"Proud Mary"
CCR - Proud Mary.png
Single by Creedence Clearwater Revival
from the album Bayou Country
B-side"Born on the Bayou"
ReleasedJanuary 1969 (1969-01)[1][2]
StudioRCA Studios in Hollywood, California[3]
Songwriter(s)John Fogerty
Producer(s)John Fogerty[1]
Creedence Clearwater Revival singles chronology
"I Put a Spell on You"
"Proud Mary"
"Bad Moon Rising"
Music video
"Proud Mary" (lyric video) on YouTube

A cover version by Ike and Tina Turner, released two years later in 1971, did nearly as well, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and winning a Grammy Award.

Background and recordingEdit

In a 1969 interview, Fogerty said that he wrote it in the two days after he was discharged from the National Guard.[7] In the liner notes for the 2008 expanded reissue of Bayou Country, Joel Selvin explained that the songs for the album started when 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.[3] 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.[8]

"Proud Mary's" singer, a low-wage earner, leaves what he considers a "good job," which he might define as steady work, even though for long hours under a dictatorial boss. He decides to follow his impulse and imagination and hitches a ride on a riverboat queen, bidding farewell to the city. Only when the boat pulls out does he see the "good side of the city"—which, for him, is one in the distance, far removed from his life. Down by the river and on the boat, the singer finds protection from "the man" and salvation from his working-class pains in the nurturing spirit and generosity of simple people who "are happy to give" even "if you have no money." The river in Fogerty and traditionally in literature and song is a place holding biblical and epical implications. ... Indeed, the river in "Proud Mary" offers not only escape but also rebirth to the singer.[9]

The song is a seamless mix of black and white roots music ..."Proud Mary" is, of course, a steamboat traveling up and down the river. Fogerty's lyric sketches out a vivid picture of the protagonist finding a comfortable niche in a community of outsiders ... The story connects back to Mark Twain; it brings the myth [of "the rambling man and life along the Mississippi"] into the sixties.[10]

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 (descending by a third), implying the way "Proud Mary" opens with the repeated C chord to A chord. Fogerty wanted to evoke male gospel harmonies, as exemplified by groups he was familiar with such as the Swan Silvertones, the Sensational Nightingales, and the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi; especially on the line, "Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river"; and in the guitar solo he did his, "best [imitation of] Steve Cropper."[11] 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.[3]

Chart performanceEdit

"Proud Mary" was the only song by CCR to be kept from the No. 1 spot by two songs, first unable to dethrone "Everyday People" by Sly and the Family Stone and then passed by "Dizzy" by Tommy Roe.

Solomon Burke versionEdit

"Proud Mary"
Single by Solomon Burke
from the album Proud Mary
B-side"What Am I Living For"
GenreCountry soul
LabelBell Records
Songwriter(s)John Fogerty

I know a lot of you folks would like to know what the old Proud Mary is all about. Well, I'd like to tell you about her. She's nothing but a big old boat. You see, my forefathers used to ride the bottoms of her as stokers, cooks, and waiters, and I made a vow that when I grew up I'd take a ride on the old Proud Mary ...

— intro

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,[26] who was being rehabilitated after a bout of polio,[27] and was at the time Burke's fiancée 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."[28]

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",[29] with the single reaching No. 15 on the R&B charts and No. 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."[30] On 24 May 1969 Burke sang his version of "Proud Mary" on American Bandstand.[31][32][33]

The Checkmates Ltd. Featuring Sonny Charles versionEdit

"Proud Mary"
Single by Checkmates, Ltd. Featuring Sonny Charles
from the album Proud Mary
B-side"Do You Love Your Baby"
GenreRock, Funk/Soul, Pop
LabelA&M Records

Checkmates, Ltd. released a cover of Proud Mary Featuring Sonny Charles in 1969. The song peaked at No. 69 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart on the week of 1 November 1969.[34] It also reached No. 42 in France.[35]

Ike & Tina Turner versionEdit

"Proud Mary"
Picture sleeve (Spain)
Single by Ike & Tina Turner
from the album Workin' Together
Released30 January 1971
StudioBolic Sound (Inglewood, California)
3:15 (7" version)
LabelLiberty Records
Songwriter(s)John Fogerty
Producer(s)Ike Turner
Ike & Tina Turner singles chronology
"Workin' Together"
"Proud Mary"
"Ooh Poo Pah Doo"
"Proud Mary"
Single by Tina Turner
from the album
What's Love Got to Do with It
B-side"Disco Inferno"
ReleasedNovember 19, 1993
Songwriter(s)John Fogerty
Tina Turner singles chronology
"Why Must We Wait Until Tonight"
"Proud Mary"

Ike & Tina Turner released "Proud Mary" on January 30, 1971 as the second single from their 1970 album Workin' Together.[36] Their rendition differs greatly from the structure of the original, but is also well-known and has become one of Tina Turner's most recognizable signature songs.

Ike wasn't keen on the original version, but the cover of "Proud Mary" by the Checkmates, Ltd. piqued his interest.[37] Ike and Tina's version was substantially rearranged by Ike Turner and Soko Richardson.[38][39] 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.

The single peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on March 27, 1971, two years after the original by Creedence Clearwater Revival was at its peak. It also reached No. 5 on the Billboard R&B chart, and earned the duo a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group in 1972.[40]

Ike and Tina first performed a version of the song on Playboy After Dark on December 3, 1969; episode aired on February 3, 1970.[41] They also performed it on The Ed Sullivan Show on January 11, 1970, and on Soul Train on April 22, 1972.[42] The song became a staple in all of their live shows. Live versions of the song were released on the albums Live at Carnegie Hall — What You Hear Is What You Get (1971) and Live In Paris (1971).

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 in the 1970s.

The song continued to be an essential part of Tina's solo performances. In 1988, a live version was included on the album Tina Live in Europe. Tina later re-recorded the song in the studio for the biopic's 1993 soundtrack album of the same name. This track was released as a promotional single issued to radio stations and DJs. Tina's solo performance was later included on her 2004 greatest hits album All the Best. After a contestant's take on the song on The X Factor in 2010, it entered the UK Singles Chart at No. 62 and fell to No. 121 the next week; it also entered the Scottish Singles Chart at No. 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. Tina also performed duets of "Proud Mary" with Beyoncé and Cher.

Formats and track listingsEdit

1971 US 7"

  1. Proud Mary – 3:15
  2. Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter – 2:40

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 performanceEdit

Tina Turner solo version
Chart (2010) Rank
Scotland (OCC)[56] 40
UK Singles (OCC)[57] 62

Certifications and salesEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[58]
Solo version
Gold 400,000 
United States (RIAA)[59]
Duet version
Gold 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone
 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone


"Proud Mary" placed at No. 155 on Rolling Stone's 2004 list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[60] Both CCR and Ike & Tina Turner's versions of the song received Grammy Hall of Fame Awards, in 1998 and 2003, respectively.[61]

Other versionsEdit

"Proud Mary" has, over the years, been recorded by a number of artists. 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 number 30 on the U.K. Singles Chart and number 69 on the Billboard Hot 100.[62] In 1970, the song was recorded by Leonard Nimoy, in his album The New World of Leonard Nimoy.

Elvis Presley began incorporating "Proud Mary" into his live shows in 1970. Presley's version is a full-out rocker and is featured in his 1972 concert film Elvis on Tour, and on his live albums On Stage (1970) and As Recorded at Madison Square Garden (1972).


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External linksEdit