Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26: Bobby Hebb - "Sunny" was born on this date in 1938...

... he died on August 3, 2010 at the age of 72.

Bobby Hebb was born Robert Von Hebb in Nashville, Tennessee. Hebb's parents, William and Ovalla Hebb, were both blind musicians. Bobby and his older brother Harold performed as a song-and-dance team in Nashville, beginning when Bobby was three and Harold was nine.

Hebb performed on a TV show hosted by country music record producer Owen Bradley, which earned him a place with Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff. Hebb played spoons and other instruments in Acuff's band. Harold later became a member of Johnny Bragg and the Marigolds.

Bobby Hebb sang backup on Bo Diddley's "Diddley Daddy." Hebb played "West-coast-style" trumpet in a United States Navy jazz band, and replaced Mickey Baker in Mickey and Sylvia.

On November 23, 1963, the day after John F. Kennedy's assassination, Harold Hebb was killed in a knife fight outside a Nashville nightclub. Hebb was devastated by both events and sought comfort in songwriting. Though many claim that the song he wrote after both tragedies was the optimistic "Sunny", Hebb himself stated otherwise.

"Sunny" was recorded in New York City, after demos were made with the record producer Jerry Ross. Released as a single, it reached #3 on the R&B charts, # 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, # 12 in the UK, sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. BMI rated "Sunny" number 25 in its "Top 100 songs of the century."

Hebb also had lesser hits with his "A Satisfied Mind" in 1966 (#39 on the Billboard chart and #40 on the R&B chart) and "Love Me" in 1967 (# 84), and wrote many other songs, including Lou Rawls' 1971 hit "A Natural Man" (co-written with comedian Sandy Baron).

Six years prior to "Sunny", Hebb reached the New York Top 50 with a remake of Roy Acuff's "Night Train to Memphis." In 1972, his single "Love Love Love" reached #32 in the UK charts.

After a recording gap of thirty five years, Hebb recorded "That's All I Wanna Know," his first commercial release since "Love Games" for Epic Records in 1970. It was released in Europe in late 2005.

New versions of "Sunny" were also issued (two duets: one with Astrid North, and one with Pat Appleton). In October 2008 he toured and played in Osaka and Tokyo in Japan. Hebb continued to live in his hometown of Nashville until his death from lung cancer, at the Centennial Medical Center on August 3, 2010.


"Sunny" has been recorded by, among others Jamiroquai, Cher, Boney M, Georgie Fame, Johnny Rivers, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra with Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Electric Flag, Leonard Nimoy, two different versions from Frankie Valli, the Four Tops, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Les McCann, Wes Montgomery, Dusty Springfield, and Classics IV.

One re-recording, a disco version called "Sunny '76" was a minor hit for Hebb in that year hitting #94 on the R&B chart. In 2000, Musiq did an updated dance version retitled "Just Friends (Sunny,)" which went to #31 on the U.S. Billboard charts.

For more about Bobby, visit his Website at -


No comments:

Post a Comment