This Story originally ran in the N.E. Informer Magazine, 2009
You can get "Sunny" from the 2008 tour, Bobby's final tour,
Bobby Hebb Tours Japan
By Joe Viglione
After many years in the Boston area legendary songwriter/singer Bobby Hebb returned to Nashville, where he lived as a child. The co-author of Lou Rawls' Grammy winning song, "A Natural Man", and the vocalist/composer of the classic "Sunny" (thank you for the sunshine bouquet) performed at Billboard's Nightclubs in Osaka and Tokyo in October of 2008 and is scheduled to go back to Japan in April of 2009...after a few dates in England and Germany. 2009 is shaping up to be a big year for Hebb, Rosetta Swain, a cousin of his, has arranged and recorded a Gospel version of "Sunny" entitled "Jesus," set to debut in New York. Hebb is thinking of performing at that debut. There is talk of a new album, "Bobby Hebb Live" tentatively planned to contain "unplugged" versions of "Sunny", Frank Sinatra's exquisite "Nancy" (With The Laughing Face), "Take The "A" Train", "When Sunny Gets Blue" and other songs the man who toured with The Beatles and Jimmy Page's Yardbirds has in the vault from recordings made over the years.
New England Informer spoke with Bobby about his recent trip to Japan:
NE Informer: You last toured Japan in the 1990s, how were you received in the new millennium?
Bobby Hebb: "The people liked it very much - maybe I'm too critical (of my own work) - the shows went over very well in Osaka and Tokyo; the thing I like about Osaka is everything is underground - stores and things of that nature. Osaka had a very nice crowd - I was surprised, really. I think that I was really surprised because the band did such a fine job. The musicians were superb."
NE Informer: You performed "Sunny", of course, what about other songs in the set?
Bobby Hebb: "I was surprised of how tight the group was on "That's The Way I Like It", our cover of the K.C. & The Sunshine Band hit. We opened up with the disco version of Sunny, "Sunny '76", into "Cold Cold Night (Bobby co-wrote "Cold, Cold Night" with Phil Medley, the fellow who wrote "Twist & Shout"), and "You Want To Change Me".
NE Informer: "You Want To Change Me" sometimes sells for about a hundred dollars on eBay! You've never performed that in concert before - what a treat for Northern Soul fans.
Hebb: "It was the same show in both cities except that in Tokyo I added a song I didn't expect, on this particular encore...the band went out and I came back and it was time for me to play the spoons. I really hadn't prepared anything so the band just started playing (the Cream/Willie Dixon song) "Spoonful" giving me a standing ovation on those encores."
Ever the perfectionist Mr. Hebb added "I still want to know what I can do to make this better."
Here's the set list from Bobby's shows in Japan:
Main "Sunny" theme
Cold Cold Nights
You Want To Change Me
That's All I Wanna Know
That's The Way I Like It
Nigerian Market Place (Instrumental written by Oscar Peterson)
A Natural Man
the original Sunny
Directly From My Heart (a song by Little Richard)
You Send Me (the Sam Cooke song)
Encores: Mustang Sally, In The Midnight Hour, main theme and Sunny disco.
Hear Oscar Peterson perform "Nigerian Marketplace"
Little Richard's "Directly From My Heart To You"
The band featured:
Tadahiro Fusahara - trumpet
Hisatsugu Suzuki - tenor sax
Katsuki Nakajima - bass
Osamu Soda - piano
Rikiya Higashihara - drums
Bobby Hebb - guitar, vocals
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Pastor Rosetta Swain "Jesus" sung to "Sunny"
ROSETTA SWAIN "Jesus"
Bobby Hebb appeared in the studio when his cousin, Pastor Rosetta Swain, cut the authorized Gospel version of "Sunny" and retitled the new performance "Jesus".
WHO ARE THE BAND?
Tadahiro Fusahara - trumpet