It was the song that spawned two very famous versions. And it all began in January of 1969.
The song was “Proud Mary”, and it began with Creedence Clearwater Revival, as it was recorded for the band’s second album Bayou Country. According to music critic Joel Selvin, John Fogerty wrote the song while in the National Guard, and conceived the song’s riffs during a concert at the Avalon Ballroom, then arranged from parts of different songs, one of which happened to be about a washerwoman named Mary. Two notable lines in the song came from a Will Rogers movie, and from Fogerty discharge from the National Guard.
“Proud Mary” became an immediate hit for Creedence Clearwater Revival, as it would hit number two on the charts (the first of five that the band would achieve). The song later became a staple on classic rock radio, and was ranked as one of the top 200 songs on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The song would see numerous covers from artists including Solomon Burke, Elvis Presley, and Neil Sedaka. But the most famous cover of “Proud Mary” came from Tina Turner. She first covered the song in 1970, while at the time was married to Ike Turner, and was a member of the revue that bore their names. Turner’s version began with a slow groove, where Turner states that she and Ike “don’t do anything ‘nice and easy’, but will begin it that way. The song soon picks up in faster-paced funk rock vamp, or “nice and rough”.
Released as a single in 1971, Turner’s version of “Proud Mary” went to number four on the charts, and become her signature tune, both as a member of Ike and Tina Turner Revue, and as a solo artist as she would rerecord it a few more times, including for 1993 biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It. Both Creedence’s and Turner version received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award, in 1998 and 2003, respectively.