First recorded (as “Ball ‘n Chain”) by Big Mama Thorton (c. 1961, released 1968).
Hit album version by Big Brother & The Holding Company (1968).
From the wiki: “‘Ball and Chain’ (also known as ‘Ball ‘n Chain’) was written and first recorded by Blues artist Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton (‘Hound Dog‘). Although her recording did not appear on the record charts, ‘Ball ‘n’ Chain’ has become one of Thornton’s best-known songs largely due to performances and recordings by Janis Joplin with Big Brother & The Holding Company. According to music writer Gillian Gaar, Thornton originally had recorded the song for Bay-Tone Records in the early 1960s, but it was not released until 1968 (by Arhoolie Records). Gaar adds that ‘[Bay-Tone held] on to the copyright – which meant that Thornton missed out on the publishing royalties when Janis Joplin recorded the song later in the decade.’
“However, Thornton’s (and Big Brother/Joplin’s) releases do list ‘W.M. Thornton’ as the songwriter. In 1967, after hearing a set by Big Mama Thornton at the Both/And Club, Joplin and Big Brother guitarist James Gurley asked Thorton if they could record ‘Ball and Chain’. ‘OK, take it – and sing it,’ was all Thorton said and then she meticulously wrote down the lyrics of the song for Gurley to use. With permission granted, and a signed release by Thorton’s manager, Jim Moore, Big Brother & The Holding Company began performing ‘Ball and Chain’ as part of their set.