A Credence Clearwater Revival song made even more famous by Tina Turner’s dancing, plus Elvis and Mr. Spock.
In 1969 Credence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty wrote a song about a poor Louisiana washerwoman that became a major top 10 hit on international Billboard charts. CCR was making a name for themselves writing songs about blue-collar life and protesting the Vietnam war. Later that year, they would perform the song at Woodstock.
While CCR is one of the great American bands and a major icon of 60’s rock, let’s be real. It was Tina Turner who ultimately owned this song. In 1970 she and her then husband Ike recorded their own high energy interpretation and would become one of the most famous of Tina’s career. They even won a Grammy for their record, whereas the original CCR track did not. However both of their versions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Below is one of Ike and Tina’s original TV performances.
Perhaps the song’s resonance only becomes clearer knowing Tina’s biography and the struggle she had to get away from the abusive Ike and strike out a career on her own. Anna Mae Bullock was born and raised in Tennessee, later moving to St. Louis where she would meet Ike Turner. After many tumultuous years together they would divorce in 1978. The domestic abuse Tina suffered wouldn’t become known until the release of her autobiography I, Tina and was a major subject in the biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It. (Watch Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne’s Oscar nominated performances as Tina and Ike performing the song from the film)Years after the record, she would still be performing “Proud Mary” without Ike claiming all the glory for herself. In 2008, she invited Beyonce to sing the song with her onstage at the Grammy’s. Can you handle those hips and those hair flips? Because I don’t think you’re ready…
Many artists have since added of “Proud Mary” to their repertoire, especially for live performances. So here’s my list of the best/most interesting.
Solomon Burke (1969)
Preacher and soul singer Solomon Burke recorded his take before Ike and Tina, making his the first African American adaptation. I’m unable to find any early performances of his on YouTube, but it seems his schtick in the 90’s was to sing songs while sitting in an enormous velvet throne.
Elvis Presley (1972)
Vegas Elvis returns! Poor guy, in his shiny caped suit kinda seems like he’s not up to handling the song. His eyes are closed like he’s trying really, really hard to keep up but mostly he wants to get off the stage and sleep. Still, its a moment for Americana. For a real Vegas style performance you probably want Tom Jones and his shiny jacket where he walks down stairs and doesn’t lose his breath.
Leonard Nimoy (1970)
Yes, you read that right. MR SPOCK SINGS PROUD MARY! It is not good but that’s what makes it so, so perfect. There’s still an energy to it, but it is much more laid back because its a “jazz lounge” album. I need this on vinyl so bad.
As a bonus, here’s what it looks like when you put the Ike & Tina version on a trailer for an action film starring Taraji P. Henson as an assassin, spy, something whatever she has guns and looks amazing.