“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” is a song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966. The first recording of the song to be released was produced by Whitfield for Gladys Knight & the Pips and released as a single in September 1967. It went to number one on the Billboard R&B Singles chart and number two on the Billboard Pop Singles chart and shortly became the biggest selling Motown single up to that time.
The Marvin Gaye version was the second to be recorded, in the beginning of 1967, but the third to be released. It was placed on his 1968 album In the Groove, a year and a half later, where it gained the attention of radio disc jockeys, and Motown founder Berry Gordy finally agreed to its release as a single in October 1968, when it went to the top of the Billboard Pop Singles chart for seven weeks from December 1968 to January 1969 and overtook the Gladys Knight & the Pips’ version of being the biggest hit single on the Motown label (Tamla). The Gaye recording has since become an acclaimed soul classic. In 1998 the song was inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame for “historical, artistic and significant” value. In 2004, it was placed 80 on the Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, then re-ranked at 81 in 2010.
In addition to being recorded several times by Motown artists, the song has been recorded by musicians including Creedence Clearwater Revival, whose 11-minute version appeared on their 1970 album Cosmo’s Factory The band had initially started to play the song live before rearranging it in the studio with a long jam-like instrumental part for their record. Unusually for such a long song, radio stations began to play the song, and eventually it was released as a single against the band’s wishes. The release reached 43 on Billboard’s chart, with more modest success in other countries.
– John Fogerty: Vocals and lead guitar.
– Tom Fogerty: Rhythm guitar and backing vocals.
– Stu Cook: Bass and backing vocals.
– Doug Clifford: Drums and backing vocals.