Bobby Hebb

sunnyBobby Hebb’s one hit wonder, “Sunny” was entering it’s second week at number one on the WKNR Music Guide on this date in 1966. Only the second African American to perform on the Grand Ole Opry, Hebb was the son of blind musicians. His career began at age three when he teamed with his nine year old brother, Harold. He later becasme a regular on the Opry playing in Roy Acuff’s band. Hebb played trumpet in the Navy and became the second “Mickey” when Mickey Baker left the musical team of Mickey and Sylvia.

On November 23, 1963, Harold Hebb was killed in a knife fight in Nashville. That event, along with the assasination of President John F. Kennedy threw Hebb into a funk. He used songwriting as therapy, eventually penning “Sunny” as an alternative to Johnny Bragg’s “Just Walkin in the Rain.”

hebbbeatles“Sunny” was a smash hit, leading to a tour with the Beatles. Bootleg recordings of the concerts show the audience receiving Hebb with the same wild enthusiasm shown for John, Paul, George and Ringo. The All Music Guide shows over 1000 different releases of the song. In it’s day, the tune was covered more than one hundred times by everyone from Cher to James Brown to Frank Sinatra. Eleven years later, a disco remix put Hebb back on the charts.

Some Keener Trivia: the four note hook just before the key change in “Sunny” was lifted from John Barry’s famous James Bond theme, made popular in the film Dr. No.

Jun 18th, 2009 | Posted in Keener
  1. Tony In Hiroshima
    Jun 25th, 2009 at 13:30 | #1

    Your article reminds me of a WKNR-sponsored event that occurred during the popularity of this record. In mid-1966, WKNR solicited used bars of hand and bath soap. The soap was to be melted down into cleaning products that would be sent to our forces in Vietnam. No kidding. My school, Cabrini High in Allen Park, won the “soap drive”. Our prize was a gym dance with WKNR sending the talent. So in June, 1966, Dick Purtan came to Cabrini with a number of artists to lip sync their hits. Bobby Hebb was among them, and performed “Sunny” that night. Hebb was very entertaining, and we enjoyed a spectacular night, even though our nuns were totally freaked out by the excitement. The only other other singer I remember performing that night was Gary Bonds, but I may be wrong about this. Perhaps some of my Cabrini Monarch or Allen Park High Jaguar friends will help me out here.

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