1. Headline
  1. Headline

Video: Remembering ‘Sunny’ songwriter

  1. Transcript of: Remembering ‘Sunny’ songwriter

    LESTER HOLT, anchor: The singer and songwriter who wrote one of the biggest pop hits of the 1960s has died. You may not recognize his name, but we bet you'll know his hit song . Listen. Bobby Hebb wrote and recorded that song, "Sunny," in 1966 . It was subsequently recorded by many others, including Marvin Gaye and Wilson Pickett . Hebb died this morning in Nashville . He was 72. Up

updated 8/3/2010 4:11:17 PM ET 2010-08-03T20:11:17

Bobby Hebb, whose 1966 pop music classic "Sunny" described a sincere smile from a woman that lifted the singer's burdens, died Tuesday. He was 72.

  1. More Entertainment stories
    1. Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts

      In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...

    2. Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
    3. See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
    4. Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
    5. 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom

Family members and a funeral home spokeswoman said Hebb died at Centennial Medical Center. Friends said he had lung cancer.

"Sunny" also was recorded by many other singers, including Marvin Gaye, Wilson Pickett and Jose Feliciano.

The song's key lines:

"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."

Hebb had said in several interviews that he wrote "Sunny" in response to the slaying of his brother outside a Nashville nightclub and to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy a few days before.

On his 69th birthday in 2007, he recalled that he was living and performing in New York City at the time he wrote the song.

"I was intoxicated," Hebb told The Associated Press. "I came home and started playing the guitar. I looked up and saw what looked like a purple sky. I started writing because I'd never seen that before."

He included the song in his act at a bar called Brandy's and the audience liked it.

After a Japanese artist had a hit with the song in Asia and vibraphone player Dave Pike recorded it in the United States, Hebb recorded the vocal at Bell Sound in New York.

At the height of "Sunny" popularity, Hebb toured with the Beatles.

In a 2004 interview with The Tennessean newspaper, Hebb recalled that all four Beatles were nice.

"John (Lennon) and George (Harrison) were very quiet," he said. "But Ringo (Starr) and Paul (McCartney) were more active and easier to get to know. It was just something to be with those cats."

In 1971, Lou Rawls won a Grammy award for "A Natural Man," written by Hebb and Sandy Baron. In 2004, Broadcast Music Incorporated honored Hebb for 6 million airings of "Sunny."

As recently as 2007, Hebb was still writing songs and had his own publishing company and record label, Hebb Cats.

Hebb was born to blind parents and raised in Nashville. He joined the Navy in 1955 where he played the trumpet in a jazz band.

In the 1950s Hebb also played and danced with Roy Acuff's country band, the Smoky Mountain Boys, and became one of the first black musicians to perform on the Grand Ole Opry show in Nashville.

Funeral services were pending. Survivors include a daughter and four sisters.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

TODAY's Takeaway
  1. TODAY; TIME

    Anchors reveal prom pics; staffers’ kids take over

    4/24/2014 9:19:26 PM +00:00 2014-04-24T21:19:26
  1. Courtesy of Jennae Zuloaga

    Surprise! Stranger captures sweet sidewalk proposal in ‘magical’ photos

    4/24/2014 10:23:52 PM +00:00 2014-04-24T22:23:52
  1. Gorditos Healthy Mexican Food

    Size them up! Babies pose next to monstrous burritos

    4/24/2014 9:27:30 PM +00:00 2014-04-24T21:27:30
  1. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

    Girl hands her jobless dad's resume to Michelle Obama

    4/24/2014 6:14:48 PM +00:00 2014-04-24T18:14:48
  1. Anikasalsera / Featurepics.com

    Green cleaning: 9 D-I-Y natural cleaners that actually work

    4/24/2014 7:13:55 PM +00:00 2014-04-24T19:13:55