Bobby Hebb passed away several weeks ago at the age of 72. He is best remembered for his huge 1966 self-penned hit “Sunny,” which spent two weeks in the number two position on the Billboard Magazine pop singles charts. You literally could not turn on your radio for any length of time during the late spring and summer of 1966 without hearing this song at least once.
The royalties alone would support him the rest of his life. It would be recorded by hundreds of artists including James Brown, The Electric Flag, Jose Feliciano, The Four Seasons, Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, Dusty Springfield, Johnny Mathis, Ella Fitzgerald, and the oddest version courtesy of Leonard Nimoy. BMI would name it number 25 on their list of the 100 greatest songs of the twentieth century.
He had a unique career before his big hit. He was part of country legend Roy Acuff’s band, backed Bo Diddley, replaced Mickey in the duo Mickey & Sylvia of “Love is Strange” fame, and played trumpet in The United States Navy Band.
1966 was his year. In addition to “Sunny,” his “A Satisfied Mind” reached number 39 and “Love Me” reached 84. His only other chart appearance was with a disco version called “Sunny 76,” which would make the R&B charts. His timing was just right as he was an opening act for The Beatles when they toured America during 1966.
Hebb would continue to perform for over four decades but could never duplicate his success of that year. So one more tip of the hat for an old sixties artist and his shining moment.