Sunny (Bobby Hebb song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sunny (1966) by Bobby Hebb US single side-A.png
Side A of the US single
Single by Bobby Hebb
from the album Sunny
ReleasedJune 1966
RecordedFebruary 21, 1966
StudioBell Sound (New York City)
GenreSoul jazz
Songwriter(s)Bobby Hebb
Producer(s)Jerry Ross
Bobby Hebb singles chronology
"A Satisfied Mind"

"Sunny" is a soul jazz standard written by Bobby Hebb in 1963. It is one of the most performed and recorded popular songs, with hundreds of versions released. BMI rates "Sunny" No. 25 in its "Top 100 songs of the century".[1]

Background and composition[edit]

Bobby Hebb, 1966

Hebb's parents, William and Ovalla Hebb, were both blind musicians. Hebb and his older brother Harold performed as a song-and-dance duo 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.

Hebb wrote the song after his older brother, Harold, was stabbed to death outside a Nashville nightclub. Hebb was devastated by the event and many critics say it inspired the lyrics and tune. According to Hebb, he merely wrote the song as an expression of a preference for a "sunny" disposition over a "lousy" disposition following the murder of his brother.[2]

Events influenced Hebb's songwriting, but his melody, crossing over into R&B (#3 on U.S. R&B chart) and Pop (#2 on U.S. Pop chart), together with the optimistic lyrics, came from the artist's desire to express that one should always "look at the bright side". Hebb has said about "Sunny": "All my intentions were to think of happier times and pay tribute to my brother – basically looking for a brighter day – because times were at a low. After I wrote it, I thought 'Sunny' just might be a different approach to what Johnny Bragg was talking about in 'Just Walkin' in the Rain.'"

Mieko Hirota version[edit]

"Sunny" was first recorded by Mieko "Miko" Hirota – the "Connie Francis of Japan" and Billy Taylor trio (feat. Ben Tucker and Grady Tate) on the Columbia records release "Miko in New York" (1965), recorded in New York. It was also released on the audio album Hit Kit Miko, Vol. 2 (October 20, 1965).

Dave Pike version[edit]

In America it was released by marimbaphonist Dave Pike on Atlantic Records in 1966 on the Jazz for the Jet Set album, recorded in New York City on October 26 and November 2, 1965. Grady Tate, who played drums on Mieko Hirotas version, also played on this version.

Bobby Hebb version[edit]

The personnel on the Bobby Hebb recording included Joe Shepley, Burt Collins on trumpet, Micky Gravine on trombone, Artie Kaplan and Joe Grimaldi on sax, Artie Butler on piano, Joe Renzetti and Al Gorgoni on guitar, Paul (PB) Brown and Joe Macho on bass, Al Rogers on drums and George Devens on percussion. The song was recorded while the session was in overtime; many of the studio musicians booked for that date had to leave early for other recording sessions. Joe Renzetti was the arranger.

"Sunny" was originally part of an 18-song demo recorded by producer Jerry Ross, also famous for Spanky and Our Gang, Keith's "98.6" and "Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie" by Jay & the Techniques (Hebb was offered this song but didn't want to be considered a novelty act and let the song go to Jay Proctor).

"Sunny" was recorded at Bell Sound Studios in New York City and released as a single in 1966. It met with immediate success, which resulted in Hebb touring in 1966 with the Beatles. The song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in late August 1966.[3]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1966) Peak
Canada RPM Top Singles[4] 2
Japanese Singles Chart 86
Netherlands 2
New Zealand (Listener)[5] 16
South Africa (Springbok)[6] 7
UK Singles Chart[7] 12
US Billboard Hot 100[8] 2
US Billboard R&B Singles 3
US Cash Box Top 100[9] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1966) Position
Dutch Singles Chart[10] 31
Top 100 Songs of 1966[11] 27
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 27
US Cash Box[13] 3

Cher version[edit]

Cher recorded the song for her third solo LP Chér, an album of covers released in October 1966. It was released as the third single off the album for the European and Asian markets, achieving success mostly in Scandinavian countries. It is considered to be a tribute to her then husband, Sonny Bono.

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1966) Peak
Danish Singles Chart[14] 8
Dutch Singles Chart[15] 1
Finnish Singles Chart[16] 9
Norwegian Singles Chart[17] 1
Swedish Singles Chart[18] 3
UK Singles Chart[19] 32

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1966) Position
Dutch Singles Chart[10] 31

Sunny '76[edit]

"Sunny '76"
Sunny 76 by Bobby Hebb US single side-A.png
Side A of the 1975 US single
Single by Bobby Hebb
B-side"Proud Soul Heritage"
LabelLaurie (US)
Songwriter(s)Bobby Hebb
Producer(s)Joe Renzetti & Marty Sheriden

"Sunny '76'" is a disco take on Bobby Hebb's song. Like the original 1966 version, it features Hebb; however, an updated disco beat was implemented with an eye to having it played in discos around the world. This version was arranged by Joe Renzetti, who also arranged the original record.

The 7-inch single was released in late 1975. The B-side featured another song of Hebb's called "Proud Soul Heritage".

Boney M. version[edit]

Sunny - boney m single.jpg
Single by Boney M.
from the album Take the Heat off Me
B-side"New York City"
ReleasedNovember 22, 1976
GenreEuro disco
LabelHansa Records (FRG)
Atlantic Records (UK)
Atco Records (U.S.)
Songwriter(s)Bobby Hebb
Producer(s)Frank Farian
Boney M. singles chronology
"Daddy Cool"
"Ma Baker"
Music video
"Sunny" (TopPop, 1977) on YouTube

Euro disco group Boney M. recorded the song for their 1976 debut album, Take the Heat off Me, produced by Frank Farian and arranged by Stefan Klinkhammer in a Euro-disco arrangement. Following their breakthrough single "Daddy Cool", "Sunny" topped the German charts and reached the top ten in many other countries.[20][21][22]

The single's B-side was "New York City", a reworked version of Gilla's (another Farian artist) 1976 hit single "Tu es!" and its English version "Why Don't You Do It", which had an intro borrowed from the Boney M. album track "Help Help". This was issued in some territories instead of "Baby Do You Wanna Bump" on "Take the Heat off Me".

The track was remixed and reissued several times in 1988, 1999 (it was a minor hit single in early 2000) and 2015, and was sampled by Boogie Pimps on their 2004 version. While Liz Mitchell sang the original lead vocals on Boney M.'s version, original member Maizie Williams recorded a solo version in 2006. The original version was also featured in the Umbrella Academy Season 2 soundtrack.[23]


Chart (1976–77) Peak
Austria Singles Chart 1
Belgium Singles Chart 1
Finland (Suomen Virallinen)[24] 6
France Singles Chart 1
Germany Singles Chart 1
Ireland Singles Chart 4
Italy (Musica e dischi)[25] 21
Japan Singles Chart 41
Netherlands Singles Chart 1
New Zealand Singles Chart 17
Norway Singles Chart 4
South Korea Singles Chart 1
Sweden Singles Chart 11
Switzerland Singles Chart 2
UK Singles Chart 3

2000 remix[edit]

"Sunny (Remix)"
Single by Boney M.
from the album 20th Century Hits
ReleasedFebruary 7, 2000
LabelBMG Records (FRG)
Songwriter(s)Bobby Hebb
Producer(s)Frank Farian
Boney M. singles chronology
"Hooray! Hooray! (Caribbean Night Fever)"
"Sunny (Remix)"
"Daddy Cool (Remix)"

The final single from Boney M.'s remix album 20th Century Hits which peaked at #80 in the Swiss charts. The CD single was released with 8 mixes. A "London Mix" was released on the promotional double-12" single.

Other notable cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ "BMI's Top 100 Songs Of The Century". Archived from the original on 2014-07-13. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  2. ^ Maddox, David. "One So True | Stories". Nashville Scene. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  3. ^ "The Hot 100 Chart". Billboard.
  4. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1966-09-05. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  5. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  6. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  7. ^ "CHER | Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  8. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  9. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 8/27/66". Archived from the original on May 29, 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  10. ^ a b Dutch Singles Chart (1966). "Dutch Singles Chart; End of year charts". Archived (PDF) from the original on 18 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
  11. ^ "Top 100 Songs of 1966". Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1966/Top 100 Songs of 1966". Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  13. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1966". Archived from the original on 17 February 2017. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Denmark's Best Sellers" (PDF). Cashbox magazine. October 29, 1966. Retrieved 2016-10-09.
  15. ^ "Holland's Best Sellers" (PDF). Cashbox magazine. October 29, 1966. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  16. ^ "Hits of the World" (PDF). Billboard magazine. October 12, 1966. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  17. ^ "Norway's Best-Sellers" (PDF). Cash Box Magazine. October 29, 1966. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  18. ^ "Swedish's Best Sellers" (PDF). Cashbox magazine. October 29, 1966. Retrieved 2016-10-09.
  19. ^ "Cher's UK chart history". Official Charts. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  20. ^ Steffen Hung. "Boney M. - Sunny". Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  21. ^ "BONEY M | Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  22. ^ "InfoDisc : Tout les Titres N° 1 des 70's". Archived from the original on 2014-03-30. Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  23. ^ Topham, Michelle (2 August 2020). "Listen to Boney M.'s 'Sunny' from The Umbrella Academy, Season 2, Episode 3, "The Swedish Job"".
  24. ^ Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
  25. ^ Racca, Guido (2019). M&D Borsa Singoli 1960–2019 (in Italian). ISBN 9781093264906.
  26. ^ Steffen Hung. "Christophe Willem - Sunny". Retrieved 2014-06-28.
  27. ^ Noah Yoo (2020-04-18). "Watch Billie Eilish Cover Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" on One World: Together at Home". Retrieved 2021-11-14.
  28. ^ Antwane Folk (2021-07-20). "Jamie Jones of All-4-One Releases New Song 'Sunny'". Retrieved 2021-11-14.

External links[edit]