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Bobby Hebb, Singer of 1966 Hit ‘Sunny,’ Dies at 72

NASHVILLE (AP) — Bobby Hebb, whose 1966 hit “Sunny” became a pop classic, died here on Tuesday. He was 72. His death, at Centennial Medical Center, was announced by his family. No cause was given.

“Sunny” reached No. 2 on the Billboard pop chart. At the height of the song’s popularity, Mr. Hebb opened for the Beatles on their last United States tour.

“Sunny” was recorded by many other singers, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Dusty Springfield, Wilson Pickett, José Feliciano and Cher.

The song is an upbeat ode to a woman whose smile “really eased the pain” when the singer’s “life was filled with rain.” It features the catchy refrain “Sunny one so true, I love you.”

Mr. Hebb said in several interviews that he wrote it to lift his spirits when his brother was killed outside a Nashville nightclub in 1963, shortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Mr. Hebb never had another hit as big as “Sunny,” but remained active as both a singer and a songwriter. In 1971, Lou Rawls won a Grammy award for “A Natural Man,” which Mr. Hebb wrote with Sandy Baron. As recently as 2007, Mr. Hebb was still writing songs and had his own publishing company and record label, Hebb Cats.

Born to blind parents and raised in Nashville, Mr. Hebb played trumpet in a Navy jazz band and later worked with the country singer Roy Acuff, becoming one of the first black musicians to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.

Survivors include a daughter and four sisters.

via nytimes

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