Bobby Day reached the pop top forty once as a songwriter, then once again as a performer of another song. He also did it as a member of a group performing a song he had written. Another cover version of yet another song written by Day, this one recorded by a British Invasion band, was the third song he had written to reach the pop top forty. And all four records made it to at least number eleven in America.
When he was born in Fort Worth, Texas, his name was Robert James Byrd. Various sources report his year of birth as 1928, 1930 and 1932. In 1948 he moved to the Watts section of Los Angeles and began performing as a rhythm & blues singer. He became acquainted with the West Coast music scene and in 1950 formed a group called the Hollywood Flames. The group did some recording sessions, some of them under the name The Flames. He also began to write music.
As the 50's moved along, he worked for West Coast music producer Johnny Otis at Otis' Barrelhouse Club. Now using the stage name Bobby Day, he wrote and recorded a song called Little Bitty Pretty One. A very good song and destined for greatness, Day's recording of the song met with little success, but a cover done by Thurston Harris went to number six on the pop chart in the fall of 1957. Day was still recording as the lead singer for the Hollywood Flames, and they had a hit on the R&B chart that year with the novelty song Buzz-Buzz-Buzz, on which Day shared the writing credits. The Hollywood Flames had other novelty songs that made the R&B charts and also recorded some nice ballads.
In 1958 Day recorded Rockin' Robin (a.k.a. Rock-in Robin) on the Class record label. This was a smash hit, going to number two pop. It was an infectious song and remained popular for quite some time. Many remember Bobby Day as a one-shot artist for this song, but actually he had six songs in the Hot 100 from 1957 to 1959. One of these was another Day-written song titled Over And Over.
Bobby Day had met Earl Nelson in the Flames. The two formed an act known as Bob & Earl and made some recordings. Day later left and was replaced by Bob Relf. After Day's departure, Bob & Earl's most notable record was Harlem Shuffle.
Day's run on the charts was over by the end of the 50's. But his songs were brought back by others who had rousing success with them. In 1965 the Dave Clark Five had their only number one hit in America with Over And Over. And in 1972, young up-and-comer Michael Jackson had a #2 hit with Rockin' Robin and did nearly as well with the Jackson 5 recording of Little Bitty Pretty One. Various other pop music performers have covered songs written by Day, among them Frankie Avalon, the Dovells, the Hollies, Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge, Clyde McPhatter, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and the Allman Brothers Band. The Doobie Brothers sometimes play Little Bitty Pretty One in concert, a song that is always popular with their audience.
Bobby Day was a likable person and a talented singer and songwriter. He passed away in 1990 after suffering from cancer, but not before leaving us with four classic rock-and-roll songs: Little Bitty Pretty One, Rockin' Robin, Buzz-Buzz-Buzz and Over And Over.
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