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Passings: Bobby Sharp, Writer of Unchain My Heart (1924 - 2013)

Some people don't know what they have and then spend years trying to get it back. Such was the case of Bobby Sharp, who sold the rights to his song Unchain My Heart to support a habit only to fight for years to get the rights back.

Bobby Sharp passed away on Tuesday, January 29 from complications after a fall. He was 88. Bobby had recently gotten back into the music business, recording his debut album at the age of 81.

Sharp was born in Kansas but moved to Los Angeles to be raised by his grandparents. In 1943, he joined the Army and, upon discharge, used the G.I. Bill to study music at the Manhattan School of Music. As a songwriter, he worked the streets of New York trying to get publishers to hear his compositions, finally seeing success in 1956 with Baby Girl of Mine which he recorded himself on Wing Records. The tune was later also recorded by Ruth Brown.

While hawking his song, he also played piano with a number of greats such as Benny Carter and Jimmy Lunceford while his compositions were recorded by the likes of Sammy Davis, Jr. and Sarah Vaughan.

Success also opened the world of drug addiction to Sharp and, in a fateful turn of events, he sold his rights to the song Unchain My Heart to Teddy Powell for drug money (many reports put the amount at $50 while Sharp's own site says $1,000), not knowing that, as the writer, he would still be due royalties. It took Sharp seven years in the courts to get the money that was due to him and, when the song's copyright was about to expire, he was able to renew it in his own name.

Once he beat his drug addiction, Sharp moved to Alameda, CA and, in 1980, became a substance abuse counselor.

In 2005, he got back into the music business to record his debut album, The Fantasy Sessions, at the age of 81.

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