Who Wrote “Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival?

“Proud Mary” features the very best of Creedence Clearwater Revival – a swampy roots rock sound carried by a muddied baritone and the undeniably singable rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river to tie it all together.

The CCR classic became a hit for the band but also lives on today as a standard in rock and roll. With a catalog of classic rock’s biggest bops, it begs the question: who wrote one of the band’s greatest?

Who Wrote It?
“Proud Mary” was penned by the band’s principal songsmith, frontman John Fogerty. Written shortly after he was discharged from the National Guard, Fogerty remembers the 1969 tune as his first truly great work.

“Sometimes I’ll think about that moment when songwriting truly started for me,” Fogerty told American Songwriter in a 2020 interview. “It was with ‘Proud Mary.’

“I especially remember writing ‘Proud Mary’ because I had never done it before. I had written songs, but they were always kind of ordinary. I was used to that, starting as about an eight-year-old. I’d go, ‘Hey! I made a song!’ But I’d always know it was not very good.”

“Proud Mary” was released as the first single from CCR’s sophomore album, Bayou Country. The band had seen little success with their self-titled debut the year prior, their single “Susie Q” has seen its share of radio play, but not much more. But “Proud Mary” and Bayou Country, as a whole, marked a shift for the band and the songwriter.

“That wonderful afternoon when “Proud Mary” happened … I was just blown way,” Fogerty said. “I was in shock, really. I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is really good!’

“It was my first really good song,” he continued. “I looked at that process as if it was an unseen pathway that I was on. I couldn’t know it. And then so many things fell into place; it became my first big single. … Then for quite a little streak there, for several years, I wrote several songs.”

He added, “I’m saying this with all humility. Please don’t think I’m trying to brag. It’s such a remarkable way to feel, that this just came out of me … You work on the song till you get it right, whatever you have to do. And then you take a big sigh of relief at the end and exhale. And you think, ‘Oh my God, this is really good.’ And, of course, you play it for yourself again, and it’s a great moment.”

Give “Proud Mary” a listen below.

The Covers
For Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Proud Mary” peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100, but a cover of their hit crept up a couple of years later nearly topping the already chart-topper.

Several re-imaginings have been born from “Proud Mary,” however none have been quite as potent as Ike & Tina Turner’s 1971 rendition. Their version is a far cry from CCR’s roots rock original as they give the song a hefty dose of soul. The Turners’ “Proud Mary” starts off slow, leisurely chugging along before exploding into the high-flying, hip-shaking tune that quickly became a signature among the couple.

Check it out below.

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