Singer Bobby Day, whose songs “Little Bitty Pretty One” and “Rockin’ Robin” soared to the top of rock ‘n’ roll charts in the 1950s, has died of cancer in Los Angeles, a family friend said Sunday.
Day, 60, was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital July 15 and died Friday, said Karen Castillo, owner of Desert Rose Productions and Solid Gold Entertainment Management in Daggett.
He had been treated for an ulcer for the last year, Castillo said. Doctors discovered an intestinal tumor when he was last hospitalized, she said.
A native of Texas, Day was born Robert James Byrd. In 1958, he wrote and recorded “Little Bitty Pretty One"--his affectionate name for his wife, Jackie. An up-tempo version recorded by Thurston Harris with Day’s blessings was a bigger hit the same year.
Day was the first to record the Jimmie Thomas song “Rockin’ Robin,” and his version hit No. 2 on the Billboard charts in 1958. The song became a hit again many years later for the Jackson 5.
Day also wrote and recorded “Over and Over” in 1958, and his other recordings include “The Bluebird,” “The Buzzard & the Oriole,” “Gotta New Girl” and “That’s All I Want” in 1959.
“He had the biggest heart of any man I’ve ever known,” Castillo said. “He loved people. His thing was making people happy. That’s why he was on stage.”
In the 1950s, Day formed the Hollywood Flames, a group that had hit singles with “Buzz-Buzz-Buzz” and “Crazy.” He also recorded “Gee Whiz” as part of the duo Bob & Earl.
“He wasn’t one of these kids that popped up and got lucky,” Castillo said. “He was extremely talented. His rhythm and blues voice was dynamic and captivating.”
Day recently appeared in the nationwide tour “30 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll” with Donnie Brooks and Tiny Tim.
“You never saw him without a smile,” Castillo said. “The No. 1 thing for him was entertaining people.”
Along with his wife, he is survived by children Robert, Robbie, Simone and Aaron and eight grandchildren.
Services will be Saturday at Angelus Funeral Home, 3875 Crenshaw Blvd., with burial at Holy Cross Cemetery.