Unchain My Heart (song)

"Unchain My Heart" is a song written by Bobby Sharp and recorded first in 1961 by Ray Charles[1] and in 1963 by Trini Lopez[2] and later by many others. Sharp, a drug addict at the time, sold the song to Teddy Powell for $50.[1] Powell demanded half the songwriting credit. Sharp later successfully fought for the rights to his song. In 1987, he was also able to renew the copyright for his publishing company, B. Sharp Music.[1]

"Unchain My Heart"
Single by Ray Charles
B-side "But on the Other Hand Baby"
Released November 1961 (1961-11)
Format 7-inch single
Genre Rhythm and blues
Length 2:52
Label ABC-Paramount
Songwriter(s) Robert Sharp, Jr., Teddy Powell
Ray Charles singles chronology
"Careless Love"
"Unchain My Heart"
"I Can't Stop Loving You"

The song was a hit for Charles when released as a single in late 1961. Accompanied by his backup singers the Raelettes, Charles sang about wanting to be free from a woman "who won't let (him) go". His band included longtime saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman. The song reached number nine on the pop singles chart and number one on the R&B singles chart and was the working title of Charles' 2004 biopic Ray.[3]


In 1963, doo-wop band the Rivingtons covered "Unchain My Heart" on their Doin' The Bird LP.[4] Trini Lopez covered it on his debut album, Trini Lopez at PJ's.

The track was further popularised by Joe Cocker when he named his 1987 album after the song.[5] His version of the song was re-released in 1992 and reached number 17 in the UK. In Australia, the Howard government used the Joe Cocker version to promote the television advertisements for the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2000.

Another a cappella group, the Bobs, recorded a version in 1994 and George Williams released a version on his Shades album in 2002.[6]

Hugh Laurie recorded a version in 2012 in the Ocean Way Studios.[7] It appeared as a bonus track on his Didn't It Rain album.


  1. Selvin, Joel. "Bobby Sharp's forsaken catalog of songs became 'Unchained' by twist of fate". SFGATE. Hearst. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  2. "Unchain My Heart by Trini Lopez". SecondHandSongs. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  3. "Hollywood Preps Slew Of Music-Star Biographies". Billboard: 20. February 28, 2004. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  4. "Unchain My Heart by The Rivingtons". SecondHandSongs. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  5. "PASSINGS: Michael Parrish, Bobby Sharp". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  6. Billboard
  7. Perciaccante, Mike. "Hugh Laurie & The Copper Bottom Band". All About Jazz. Retrieved 25 August 2016.

External links

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