Bunny Sigler, ‘Philly Sound’ Singer-Songwriter, Dies

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Bunny Sigler (promotional photo)

Philadelphia R&B perennial Bunny Sigler, who worked with songwriters-producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff to help create the “Philly Sound,” died Oct. 6 in the city where he gained fame. The cause was a heart attack.

Sigler also recorded a string of singles and albums for various labels under his own name beginning in the mid-’60s. His biggest hit was 1978’s “Let Me Party With You (Part 1) (Party, Party, Party),” which reached #8 on the Billboard R&B chart. On the pop chart, his 1967 “Let the Good Times Roll & Feel So Good,” which peaked at #22, was his greatest success. He placed two albums, 1978’s Let Me Party With You and the following year’s I’ve Always Wanted to Sing…Not Just Write Songs, on that chart, reaching #77 and #119, respectively.

Related: Jerry Ross, Philadelphia songwriter-producer, dies

Despite the title of that latter album, it was songwriting that gave Sigler his greatest recognition. Born Walter Sigler in Philadelphia on March 27, 1941 (the nickname stuck after his childhood), he did spend much of his youth singing, both in church and in local doo-wop groups. Sigler first recorded in 1959, both singing and playing piano, and several years later he came to the attention of the local Cameo-Parkway labels, for which he recorded the aforementioned “Let the Good Times Roll & Feel So Good.”

Early Bunny Sigler 45 picture sleeve

After leaving that outfit, Sigler went to work with Gamble and Huff, who were building an empire with their Philadelphia International Records label. Along with Phil Hurtt, Sigler wrote “Sunshine” and “When the World Is at Peace” for the O’Jays, followed by songs cut by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Billy Paul, the Whispers, Carl Carlton, Curtis Mayfield, Patti LaBelle, Lou Rawls and many others. Sigler also discovered the group Instant Funk, with which he worked on the hit “”I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl).”

Sigler resumed his singing career in the late ’70s, cutting new songs for the Gold Mind label. He continued to serve as both songwriter and producer in the ’80s and beyond, while also singing, although he no longer scored any new hits under his own name after the ’70s.

“I am truly and deeply saddened by the passing of my very dear friend Walter ‘Bunny’ Sigler,” said Gamble in a statement. “He was one of the most talented, creative, and great songwriters and music producers I have worked with. He contributed so many great songs to our PIR artist roster from the beginning. Bunny also was a great singer, and performed superbly on many of our hit song as a background vocalist. More importantly, he was like family to us. And he was the best!”

Added Huff, “Bunny was one of my favorite producers and writers. I was honored early on to introduce Bunny to the Philadelphia music community, and to producer and songwriter legends John Madara and Dave White. I was privileged to write and produce his first and biggest hit, ‘Let the Good Times Roll.’ I truly loved Bunny Sigler and will dearly miss him.”

Watch Bunny Sigler on Soul Train in 1974

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