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"Proud Mary", often erroneously called "Rollin' on the River", is a song written by American singer and guitarist John Fogerty. It was first recorded by rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival (in which Fogerty played lead guitar and sang lead vocals) on the 1969 album Bayou Country. Released as a single in January 1969, it became the band’s first top-ten hit on the U.S. Pop chart, peaking at number two, or number one according to some charts. It was the first of five singles that the band released that would reach that peak on the chart, a record for most number-two singles for a group without ever having a number-one song. The song reached number eight in the UK.

The song was written on a steamboat called the Mary Elizabeth owned by the Grafton family.

Stylistically, the song merges elements of several genres, including rock and roll, blues, gospel, and soul. Nevertheless, it contains many of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s most characteristic elements, including a repeated guitar riff, “down-home” lyrics, and a guitar solo Fogerty said was influenced by Steve Cropper of Booker T. & the MGs.

The second line of the second verse has generated considerable confusion, and can be considered a type of mondegreen. Listeners have variously interpreted it as “pumped a lot of pain” and “pumped a lot of ’pane”, referring to propane, which is commonly used as a fuel. The controversy was further fueled by Ike & Tina Turner’s cover, in which Tina sings “pumped a lot of ’tane,” referring to octane, the grading scale and chemical in gasoline. The author, Fogerty, finally laid the confusion to rest, saying,
“Sometimes I write words to songs because they sound cool to sing. Sometimes the listener doesn’t understand what I’m singing because I’m dedicated to singing the vowel, having fun with the word sounds coming out of my mouth. ‘Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis, pumped a lot of pain down in New Orleans,’ is a good example. I think Tina Turner sang '`tane' instead of 'pain,' as in a contracted form of 'octane'. But I knew what she meant.”

Cover versions

"Proud Mary" has, over the years, been covered by a number of artists, one of the first being by Solomon Burke, and another by Ed Ames on his 1969 Windmills of Your Mind album (RCA Victor LSP 4172). Anthony Armstrong Jones reached #22 on the U.S. country charts in 1969 with a rendition.

In 1971, a cover version was released by Ike & Tina Turner that differed greatly from the structure of the original, but is also well known and has become one of Tina’s most recognizable signature songs. The Turners’ version was substantially rearranged by Soko Richardson and Ike Turner. It included a sultry, slow opening and spoken-word intro by Tina Turner, as well as bass backing vocals from Ike. It reached #4 on the pop charts on 27 March 1971, two years to the week after Creedence Clearwater Revival's version was at it peak, and won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group in 1972.The song has since become a staple in all of Tina's live shows, including live duet versions with Beyonce and Cher.

Tina Turner later re-recorded the song for the 1993 soundtrack album What's Love Got to Do With It. 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.

Elvis Presley also often performed the song in his Las Vegasmarker shows and on tour in the early 70s. Versions can be found on the albums On Stage (1970) and An Afternoon in the Garden (1972).

The song was covered in "Wheels," the 9th episode of the first season of the television show Glee, and reached #78 on US iTunes charts.

The song is placed #155 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.


  2. Soko Richardson press release from Fri Jan 30, 2004
  3. Noted Soul Drummer Soko Richardson Dies February, 2004

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