Unchain My Heart (song)

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"Unchain My Heart"
Single by Ray Charles
from the album Ray Charles Greatest Hits
B-side"But on the Other Hand Baby"
ReleasedNovember 1961 (1961-11)
Format7-inch single
GenreRhythm and blues
Songwriter(s)Robert Sharp, Jr., Teddy Powell
Ray Charles singles chronology
"Careless Love"
"Unchain My Heart"
"I Can't Stop Loving You"

"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]

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]

Cover versions[edit]

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 popularized 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.


Ray Charles version[edit]

Chart (1961–1962) Peak
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[8] N/A
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 9
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[10] 1

Joe Cocker version[edit]

Chart (1987–1988) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[11] 17
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[12] 40
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[13] 18
France (SNEP)[14] 25
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[15] 26
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[16] 27
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[17] 15
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[18] 46
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[19] 11
West Germany (Official German Charts)[20] 33
Chart (1992) Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[21] 17


  1. ^ a b c Selvin, Joel. "Bobby Sharp's forsaken catalog of songs became 'Unchained' by twist of fate". SFGATE. Hearst. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  2. ^ "Unchain My Heart by Trini Lopez". SecondHandSongs. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  3. ^ "Hollywood Preps Slew Of Music-Star Biographies". Billboard: 20. February 28, 2004. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  4. ^ "Unchain My Heart by The Rivingtons". SecondHandSongs. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  5. ^ "PASSINGS: Michael Parrish, Bobby Sharp". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  6. ^ Billboard
  7. ^ Perciaccante, Mike. "Hugh Laurie & The Copper Bottom Band". All About Jazz. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  8. ^ "Ultratop.be – Ray Charles – Unchain My Heart" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  9. ^ "Ray Charles Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  10. ^ "Ray Charles Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  12. ^ "Ultratop.be – Joe Cocker – Unchain My Heart" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  13. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 8671." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  14. ^ "Lescharts.com – Joe Cocker – Unchain My Heart" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  15. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 49, 1987" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  16. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Joe Cocker – Unchain My Heart" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  17. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Joe Cocker – Unchain My Heart". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  18. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  19. ^ "Joe Cocker Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  20. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Joe Cocker – Unchain My Heart". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  21. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 1, 2019.

External links[edit]