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 in the 48 hours following a double tragedy on November 22, 1963, the day U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and Hebb’s older brother Harold was stabbed to death outside a Nashville nightclub. Hebb was devastated by both events and many critics say that those events & critically the loss of his older brother inspired the lyrics & 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.
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”; a direct quote from the author. Hebb has said about “Sunny”: “All my intentions were to think of happier times & pay tribute to my brother – basically looking for a brighter day – because times were at a low. (source Wikipedia)