Hebb wrote the song after suffering a double tragedy - a national loss followed by a personal one: On 22 November 1963, the day after US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Hebb's older brother Harold was killed in a knife fight outside a Nashville nightclub. Hebb was devastated by both events and many critics say that those events inspired the tune. Others claims Bobby wrote the song for God. Certainly, events influenced Bobby's songwriting, but his timeless melody, crossing over into R&B (#3 on U.S. R&B chart) Country 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" - a direct quote from the author. Hebb has said about "Sunny":
"All my intentions were just to think of happier times – basically looking for a brighter day – because times were at a low tide. 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'".
"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 Jay and the Techniques (Hebb was the first artist to cover "Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie", in fact, but didn't want to be considered a novelty act and let the song go to Jay Proctor). "Sunny" was first recorded in Japan by Mieko "Miko" Hirota - the "Connie Francis" of Japan, where it was said to have done well on the charts. In America it was released by vibraphonist Dave Pike on Atlantic Records in 1965 on the "Jazz for the Jet Set" album, a full year before Philips released the 45 version produced by Ross and arranged by Joe Renzetti. This information was made public - as well as sounds from the first two versions of "Sunny", on the BBC's celebrated "Songlines" program in early 2006.
"Sunny" is a cover version of Bobby Hebb's 1966 hit, recorded by German band Boney M., produced by Frank Farian and arranged by Stefan Klinkhammer in a disco arrangement. It was taken from their 1976 debut album Take the Heat Off Me, following their breakthrough single "Daddy Cool" and was another major hit single that topped the German charts. It has been remixed in 1988 and 1999 (it was a minor hit single early 2000) and was sampled by Boogie Pimps for 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. Hebb himself released a disco version of the song in 1976, and had minor success on Billboard's R&B chart.
The single was backed by a non-album track "New York City", a reworked version of Farian artist Gilla's 1976 hit single "Tu es!" / "Why Don't You Do It" with an intro borrowed from the album track "Help Help", issued only in some territories instead of "Baby Do You Wanna Bump".
The final single off Boney M.'s unsuccessful remix album 20th Century Hits stalled at a disappointing #80 in the Swiss charts and failed to chart elsewhere. The CD single was released with 8 mixes. A "London Mix" was released on the promotional double-12" single.
Promotional 12" Single
A download-only single from the group's 2006 compilation The Magic of Boney M.
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