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Bobby Sharp dies in Alameda; wrote ‘Unchain My Heart’

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Alameda songwriter who penned the Ray Charles hit “Unchain My Heart” and who sold the lyrics for $50 only to regain the rights after a court battle years later, has died. The Oakland Tribune says he died last week after complications from surgery. He was 88 and had lived quietly in Alameda for years after having retired as a drug rehabilitation counselor.

It was his own drug habit that led him to sell the rights to “Unchain My Heart” to musician/composer Teddy Powell before Charles made the song a hit in 1961. In 1963, Sharp sold his remaining rights to the song for $1,000. He later settled a lawsuit against Powell for the rights, and in 1987, when the copyrights to the song expired, Sharp snapped them up. That same year Joe Cocker made the song popular again. Obituary: Oakland Tribune

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