Piece of My Heart

"Piece of My Heart" is a romantic funk/soul love song written by Jerry Ragovoy and Bert Berns, originally recorded by Erma Franklin in 1967.

"Piece of My Heart"
Single by Erma Franklin
B-side"Baby, What You Want Me to Do"
ReleasedOctober 1967
Format7" single
RecordedAugust 1967
Songwriter(s)Jerry Ragovoy, Bert Berns
Erma Franklin singles chronology
"Big Boss Man"
"Piece of My Heart"
"Open up Your Soul"

The song came to greater mainstream attention when Big Brother and the Holding Company (featuring Janis Joplin on lead vocals) covered the song in 1968 and had a much bigger hit with it. The song has since been remade by several singers, including Dusty Springfield on her 1968 album Dusty... Definitely, Bryan Ferry on his solo debut album These Foolish Things in 1973. It was recorded by Sammy Hagar on his first Geffen Records release, Standing Hampton, which hit the airwaves in 1982, and reached platinum status , Faith Hill in 1994 and Melissa Etheridge in 2005.

In 2004, the Big Brother and the Holding Company version was ranked number 353 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song is also included among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Erma Franklin's original recording: 1967

The original version of "Piece of My Heart" was recorded by Aretha Franklin's older sister Erma in 1967 for producer Bert Berns' Shout label with the same song on both sides of the 7" vinyl single.[1][2] The song reached number 10 on the R&B charts in the US,[3] and also peaked at number sixty-two on the U.S. Pop Singles chart. In Canada, it reached number 3 on the CKFH 'Soul Survey'.[4]

Bert Berns wanted Van Morrison, who he was producing at the time, to record the song, but Morrison decIined, wanting to do his own material instead. In the UK, the single was re-released in 1992,[5] due to a successful Levi's jeans commercial ("Cinderella" AKA "Night and Day" directed by Tarsem Singh), when it peaked in the UK Singles Chart at number nine.

The version was included on the soundtrack of the 2005 comedy film Romance & Cigarettes.

Big Brother and the Holding Company version: 1968

"Piece of My Heart"
Cover of the 1968 Dutch single
Single by Big Brother and the Holding Company
from the album Cheap Thrills
B-side"Turtle Blues"
ReleasedAugust 1968 (1968-08)
Format7-inch single
RecordedMarch 2  May 20, 1968
  • Jerry Ragovoy
  • Bert Berns
Producer(s)John Simon

The song became a bigger pop hit when recorded by Big Brother and the Holding Company in 1968 with lead singer Janis Joplin.[8][9] The song was taken from the group's album Cheap Thrills, recorded in 1968 and released on Columbia Records. This 4 minutes 15 seconds rendition made it to number twelve on the U.S. pop chart. The album release was the culmination of a hugely successful year for Joplin with acclaimed performances at the Monterey Pop Festival, Anderson Theater in New York, Wake For Martin Luther King Jr. (with Jimi Hendrix) in New York and on TV's prime-time The Dick Cavett Show.

The song's instrumentation was arranged by Sam Andrew, who also performed three distorted, loud guitar solos giving the song a psychedelic touch. The B-side was "Summertime". Another version had the B-side "Turtle Blues".

Franklin said in an interview that when she first heard Joplin's version on the radio, she didn't recognize it because of the vocal arrangement.[10] Noted cultural writer Ellen Willis wrote of the difference: "When Franklin sings it, it is a challenge: no matter what you do to me, I will not let you destroy my ability to be human, to love. Joplin seems rather to be saying, surely if I keep taking this, if I keep setting an example of love and forgiveness, surely he has to understand, change, give me back what I have given". In such a way, Joplin used blues conventions not to transcend pain, but "to scream it out of existence".[11]

Until her death in 1970, "Piece of My Heart" was Joplin’s biggest chart success and best-known song. ("Me and Bobby McGee”, which Kris Kristofferson wrote, eclipsed "Piece of My Heart" when it appeared after her death in 1970. It went to #1 in 1971). "Piece of My Heart" remains most associated with Joplin and continued to get airplay long after her death. Berns never got to hear Joplin's version, dying of a heart attack on December 30, 1967.[12]

Region CertificationCertified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[13] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

A Scottish hard rock band Nazareth covered the song in 1989.

Faith Hill version: 1994

"Piece of My Heart"
Single by Faith Hill
from the album Take Me as I Am
B-side"I Would Be Stronger Than That"
ReleasedJanuary 13, 1994[14]
Format7", CD single, Cassette
LabelWarner Bros. Nashville
Songwriter(s)Jerry Ragovoy, Bert Berns
Producer(s)Scott Hendricks
Faith Hill singles chronology
"Wild One"
"Piece of My Heart"
"But I Will"

Country artist Faith Hill included the song on her debut album, Take Me as I Am (1993). It was a number one hit for her in 1994. Hill's version took on a more passive tone coupled with traditional country instrumentation. Prior to recording the track, Hill had never heard Janis Joplin's rendition. Hill's producers refused to allow her to listen to the Joplin version until she had completed her own recording.

Hill re-recorded the track for the soundtrack to the TV series King of the Hill, released in 1999. This edgier version can also be found on the 1998 international pressing of her third album, Faith (re-titled "Love Will Always Win" outside the U.S.) and 2001 international greatest hits album There You'll Be. Her original version was included in her 2007 greatest hits album The Hits.

Chart (1994) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[15] 1
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[16] 15
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[17] 1
Chart (1994) Position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[18] 13
US Country Songs (Billboard)[19] 22

Shaggy version: 1997

"Piece of My Heart"
Single by Shaggy featuring Marsha Morrison
Format7", 12", CD single, Cassette single
Songwriter(s)Jerry Ragovoy, Bert Berns, O. Burrell
Producer(s)O. Burrell

Reggae artist Shaggy covered the song on his self-produced album, Midnite Lover (1997). The single featuring Marsha was a top 10 hit in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, peaking at Number 6 and Number 7, respectively.[20]

Melissa Etheridge/Joss Stone version: 2005

A live medley of this song with Janis Joplin and the Full Tilt Boogie Band's 1971 song "Cry Baby" became a hit duet for American rock singer Melissa Etheridge and English soul singer Joss Stone when it was released to iTunes Store after they performed it at the 47th Grammy Awards on February 13, 2005, in tribute to Joplin. She had previously sung it at Woodstock '94 as part of a four-song medley of Joplin tunes.[12]

Etheridge's medley with Joss Stone made number 32 in the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the Hot Digital Tracks in April 2005. The performance also signaled Etheridge's first public return from her battle with breast cancer; appearing with her head bald from the effects of chemotherapy.[21] Etheridge also recorded a solo version of "Piece of My Heart" on her 2005 greatest hits album Greatest Hits: The Road Less Traveled.

"Piece of My Heart"
CD single cover
Single by Beverley Knight
from the album Voice - The Best of Beverley Knight
ReleasedMarch 13, 2006
FormatCD single, DVD single, 12" single, digital download
GenreR&B, soul
Length4:17 (album version)
3:36 (radio edit)
Songwriter(s)Jerry Ragovoy, Bert Berns
Producer(s)Jimmy Hogarth
Beverley Knight singles chronology
"Keep This Fire Burning"
"Piece of My Heart"
"No Man's Land"

Beverley Knight version: 2006

On her 2005 Affirmation Tour, English soul singer Beverley Knight performed the song with Ronnie Wood, which encouraged her to make a studio recording of the song. "Piece of My Heart" was the lead single from her 2006 best-of compilation Voice - The Best of Beverley Knight.[22] It peaked inside the top ten of the UK radio airplay chart. The physical single was released on March 13, 2006.

Due to a change in the UK chart rules which allowed singles to chart purely on downloads a week before their physical release, "Piece of My Heart" entered the UK chart at number ninety-three, becoming one of the first singles to do so. It ranked at number sixteen after its physical commercial release. It was her first single to be released as a DVD. It is her longest-running single to date on the UK Singles Chart, spending eleven weeks inside the top seventy-five. It was her thirteenth top forty entry and her seventh top twenty hit on the UK Singles Chart.


  • Written by Bert Berns and Jerry Ragovoy
  • Produced by Jimmy Hogarth
  • Engineered by Pom (Pierre-Olivier Magerand)
  • Mixed by Phillip Bodger
  • Lead vocals by Beverley Knight
  • Backing vocals by Bryan Chambers, Billie Godfrey, Louise Marshall
  • Wurlitzer & Hammond organ by Martin Slatterty
  • Bass by Sam Dixon
  • Drums by Jeremy Stacey
  • Guitars & percussion by Jimmy Hogarth


  1. "Erma Franklin - Piece Of My Heart". Discogs. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  2. Cad, Saint. "Top 10 Famous Songs With Unknown Originals". listverse.com. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  3. Whitburn, Joel, The Billboard Book of TOP 40 R&B and Hip Hop Hits, Billboard Books, New York 2006
  4. "RPM/CKFH Soul Survey - February 3,1968" (PDF).
  5. "Erma Franklin - (Take A Little) Piece Of My Heart". Discogs. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  6. "The Janis and Tupac Show". Hits. February 27, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  7. Nick Talevski (April 7, 2010). Rock Obituaries - Knocking on Heaven's Door. Omnibus Press. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-85712-117-2.
  8. Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 52 - The Soul Reformation: Phase three, soul music at the summit. [Part 8] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  9. 1945-, Dalton, David, (1991). Piece of my heart : a portrait of Janis Joplin. New York, N.Y.: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0306804468. OCLC 23868679.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  10. "Erma Franklin". Bluesmusicnow.com. June 28, 1990. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  11. The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, "Janis Joplin". Random House, 1980
  12. "Piece Of My Heart by Big Brother & the Holding Company Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved October 30, 2017.
  13. "American album certifications – Janis Joplin – Piece of My Heart". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  14. Faith Hill. "Piece of My Heart - Amazon.com Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  15. "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 2461." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. May 2, 1994. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  16. "Faith Hill Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard.
  17. "Faith Hill Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  18. "RPM Top 100 Country Tracks of 1994". RPM. December 12, 1994. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  19. "Best of 1994: Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 1994. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  20. "Discography Shaggy". charts.nz. Hung Medien. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
  21. "Melissa Etheridge Talks About Breast Cancer - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. October 19, 2005. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  22. "Beverley Knight - Piece Of My Heart". Discogs. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
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