Bobby Hebb, whose pop song “Sunny” crossed racial and genre lines to become a huge hit, died Tuesday at a hospital in Nashville, officials said Tuesday. He was 72.
A spokesman at Nashville Centennial Medical Center did not disclose the cause of death.
Hebb, the son of black musicians who played city streets as “Hebb’s Kitchen Cabinet Orchestra,” wrote his signature song after his brother was stabbed to death in a street fight in 1963. The song was also recorded by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown and others, and was covered by the Beatles on their final U.S. tour.
Hebb, born Robert Von Hebb on July 26, 1938, in Nashville, was the only African-American presence on the Grand Ole Opry in the early 1950s, integrating RoyAcuff’s band and touring the South. He danced, sang and played guitar, trumpet, percussion and piano, and recorded his own music in Nashville studios.
Later, Hebb co-wrote “A Natural Man” with Sandy Brown which won a Grammy for Lou Rawls.
Hebb issued the album “Love Games” in 1970, and then withdrew from the spotlight.