Bobby Hebb – Sunny

A truly beautiful inspirational song. This song was written by Bobby Hebb and released in 1966. Sunny peaked at #2 in the Billboard 100, #32 in the UK, and #2 in Canada.

His brother Hal Hebb (also a musician), was stabbed to death in a Nashville nightclub on November 23, 1963 – the day after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Bobby wrote this song 48 hours after the two terrible events. Bobby explained that the song brought him balance and hope for a brighter future – a message that connected with many listeners. He said he preferred a “sunny” disposition over a “lousy” disposition following the murder of his brother.

Hebb recorded this with producer Joe Renzetti, who used a number of New York studio musicians to serve as the backing band. The team of Ashford & Simpson (Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson) sang backup along with Melba Moore.

Hebb opened for The Beatles on their last tour, which took place in America and ran from August 12-29, 1966.

Hebb died in 2010 at age 72. The Associated Press also reported that he became one of the first black artists ever to appear on the Grand Ole Opry. At the time of Hebb’s death, “Sunny” was listed as the 18th most performed song in the BMI catalog.

From Songfacts

This soul standard speaks of an uplifting love that brings comfort through the pain. Unlike many songs with this message, “Sunny” is very ambiguous – it could apply to a man, woman, parent, child, lover or friend. It could even be about God, as some have speculated.

In 2006, an electronic group called Torpedo Boyz released a song called “Trust, Integrity & Pure Love” in which they included audio of Hebb describing the genesis of this song, which he attributed to a flash of inspiration. Said Hebb: “I was working at Brandy’s, a bar and restaurant in New York City on 84th close to Second Avenue. I was under the influence of Tennessee Sipping Whiskey, highly under the influence. As a matter of fact I was so under the influence that I was afraid to try to go to sleep. And I looked up and I saw a purple sky. I had my guitar in my hand, and without touching a pencil, I started writing it. And that’s how the song was born. I hit the nail right on the head.”

Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and hundreds of other artists have covered this song. Cher recorded it in the ’60s as a tribute to her partner, Sonny Bono. Hebb’s original though, is the only version to chart in America. Across Europe, a 1976 dance version by Boney M. was a huge hit, going to #3 UK and #1 in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

This has been used in commercials for McDonald’s, T J Maxx, Volkswagon, Indeed and a number of other companies looking for uplifting songs to associate with their product.

“Sunny” was hot on the charts at the time, peaking at #2 on August 29. The Beatles last show was in San Francisco, where Hebb somewhat ironically performed “Sunny” on a typically foggy evening.

Among the artists to cover this song are Classics IV, who released their version in 1969. A year earlier, they had a hit with “Stormy,” which seemed like an answer song to “Sunny.”

The album cover was a photo of a beautiful woman, encouraging the interpretation that Sunny was a girl.

Sunny

Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain.
Sunny, you smiled at me and really eased the pain.
The dark days are gone, and the bright days are here,
My Sunny one shines so sincere.
Sunny one so true, I love you.

Sunny, thank you for the sunshine bouquet.
Sunny, thank you for the love you brought my way.
You gave to me your all and all.
Now I feel ten feet tall.
Sunny one so true, I love you.

Sunny, thank you for the truth you let me see.
Sunny, thank you for the facts from A to C.
My life was torn like a wind-blown sand,
And the rock was formed when you held my hand.
Sunny one so true, I love you.

Sunny, thank you for the smile upon your face.
Sunny, thank you for the gleam that shows its grace.
You’re my spark of nature’s fire,
You’re my sweet complete desire.
Sunny one so true, I love you.

Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain…

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

33 thoughts on “Bobby Hebb – Sunny”

    1. Yes thanks Hans. I do feel better. Every day is getting a little better. Came back to the office yesterday.
      I didn’t know he opened for them either.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good to hear! .. I just finished The Beatles and The Historians- which was excellent- a great breakdown on how The Beatles Story has been told over the years. Her highest praise is of course for Mark and his books- she seems to feel his work- going back to the Recording Sessions book- has changed the way the story is being told- in a most positive way- and as far as All These Years- she thinks he is on the way to telling the definitive story. No surprise there.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m so glad she validated Mark…I mean with his scources I knew he had to be right.
        I will order that book this weekend. I know that Brian and The Beatles themselves twisted the story a bit and those glut of books around John’s death really did damage.
        Albert Goldman, was a grave robber to me…he was finishing something on Jim Morrison when he died…

        Liked by 2 people

      3. She is very evenhanded in her analysis of the books she discusses. For example she gives Goldman credit for his research- and Philip Norman credit for his writing style- but of course Goldman wasn’t interested in telling the full story just the negative–and Norman- Lennon-Ono bias. High marks for Mark in telling the George and Ringo stories and giving them credit for their contributions and his endless footnotes among other things. You just know he will continue to tell a straight down the middle no bias story in the next two books…

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Did she touch on the Peter Brown book? Just curious. I wish Neil would have written a book but he was loyal to the end.
        I’m looking forward to it.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Yes she gives Brown’s book attention also- she is critical of it for its overall negativity. He certainly burned all his bridges with the book.. Yes Neil was certainly loyal to them all. She does not that one thing Mark was able to do that other authors failed to succeed in doing- getting interviews with Neil. .. I am thinking of re-reading “Revolution In The Head” next- she has overall high marks for that one too.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. That is what I thought about Peter Brown. Im starting Revolution in the Head today.
        Thanks Hans…this book will be interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. She also thinks as far as recent Beatles scholarship that Mark- has lifted the bar- with all his footnotes- sources that other writers covering the story will feel they have to do the same–and that also the time is now right for the story to be told- with All These Years coming 50 years after The Beatles broke. I do think after Mark is done- there won’t be a need to do that again for a while by anyone- that the books will then be examining isolated Beatles events/ periods instead of the whole story. Enjoy Revolution In The Head.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. You know I think Womack used some of Mark’s info in the George Martin books. Mark’s book will be the standard…and the Beatles Bible so to speak…I agree with her.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Fantastic song. Back in my early days in Nashville, I knew some people who knew Bobby Hebb and his brother. These were some pretty shady people but they loved, Bobby Hebb. They said he was the nicest guy. And the best musician. At this time–mid 80s–they were very worried about him. Supposedly he was heavily into drugs–that’s what I heard. The way they talked about it, I thought he was dead. It seems, from Wikipedia, anyway, he turned his life around and died of natural causes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I couldn’t find many details about his brother being killed…it seems to fit in to what you are writing about. What a cut throat and crooked business.
      I’m glad he turned around. Reading his interviews he seemed like a great person.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea I wouldn’t have either until I looked it up…I didn’t know him. He turned terrible events into something positive.

      Like

  2. A good friend of mine had a dad named Sunny and this song always reminded me of him. He was a very popular guy that owned a car wash which I worked at for a few years. Before that he owned a garbage business and I also worked on his collection truck a few times. Thanks for writing about this song today Max.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The way this song was written tells me that Bobb Hebby was divinely inspired. God never tests us beyond what we are able to bear. For Kennedy to be killed, then his brother, may have been too much for Bobby to bear, so God gave him this song. It’s another one of those meme songs that will always be beautiful ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great song. Cher and Georgie Fame also charted with it in the 60’s in the UK, the latter was the version I knew most at the time, till Boney M had a smash dance version. The original is the best though…..

    Liked by 1 person

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