A. I Heard It Through The Grape Vine
In 1987, this song got new life when it was used in commercials for California Raisins, with claymation raisins performing the song. In addition to boosting raisin sales, the California Raisins became an ’80s fad and were the most popular Halloween costume that year. Buddy Miles – known as the founding member of The Electric Flag and as a member of Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys – was the group’s lead singer.
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles were the first to record the song, but their version wasn’t released until years later on an album called Special Occasion. The Isley Brothers then took a crack at it, but their version wasn’t released. Whitfield and Strong then had Marvin Gaye record the song but still no luck. Finally, a new Motown act Gladys Knight and the Pips recorded the song as a gospel rocker. Their version was a hit, entering the Top 40 in November 1967 and going to #2 in America.
Marvin Gaye’s version was included on his 1968 album In The Groove (later re-titled I Heard It Through The Grapevine). After E. Rodney Jones, the Chicago disc jockey at WVON, started playing it on the air, Berry Gordy reconsidered and released Gaye’s version as a single, which became even more popular and known as the definitive version of the song. Gaye’s “Grapevine” pounded the charts about a year after Knight’s, going to #1 in America on December 14, 1968.
Creedence Clearwater Revival released an 11-minute version in 1970 for their Cosmo’s Factory album; it was one of the few songs CCR recorded that they didn’t write.