Remembering Bunny Sigler

Posted October 6, 2017 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

HiFi’s editor-at-large reflects on a Philly soul legend who passed away at the age of 76

Bunny Sigler in studio.

Bunny Sigler in studio.

As a music journalist, I have interviewed quite a number of people in the music biz, but I know for certain I have talked with Bunny Sigler the most of them all. For starters, I was blessed with the opportunity of penning the liner notes on two of his album reissues for Cherry Red/Big Break Records (Let Me Party With You, That’s How Long I’ll Be Loving You). But as those liner note assignments multiplied, I found myself contacting him more and more. That’s because Bunny was the consummate songwriter, a powerful versatile vocalist and a giver of timeless music to so many other artists. His soulful, melodic works outlined solid projects made by O’Jays (“Sunshine”,” You Got Your Hooks in Me,” “Let Me Make Love to You Baby”), Jackie Moore (“Sweet Charlie Babe”), Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Patti LaBelle (“Love Need and Want You,” “Somebody Loves You Baby”), the Whispers (“Bingo”), Shirley Jones (“Do You Get Enough Love”) and dozens more, including Chaka Khan, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Ecstasy, Passion & Pain, First Choice, Double Exposure, Lou Rawls, Loleatta Holloway, Carl Carlton and Phyllis Hyman.

Often times, Bunny’s name would be so regulated to the back of the disc that you almost had no clue he was personally involved. He helped Instant Funk get off the ground, producing their first big hit, the No. 1 R&B smash “I Got My Mind Made Up.” Rewind back to 1975, before disco was even a household word, that same band played behind South Shore Commission on The Loft classic “Free Man,” a tune co-penned by Sigler. And in recent years, Sigler and the original guys of Instant Funk regularly played together and were still making new music. And in the twilight of his lifetime, his works took on new meaning through the world of sampling. Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Outkast and The Roots (yes, Philly’s own) had his back. Even Kelly Rowland and rapper Nelly cut him a fancy check after sampling “Love Need and Want You” for their huge hit “Dilemma.”

Bunny was a valued treasure, a dependable resource. And he possessed a wealth of history. One conversation with him would quickly turn into a hour-long trivia fest…guaranteed. And I would just sit there and listen; taking in all of this golden knowledge. But you see, his music career was more than just his own catalog. Yes, he would rap about all the things he wrote and things he did, and was currently working on, but he also expressed his never-ending love for music, the long list of Philly soul musicians that made all the magic work and the industry he still believed in.

We even laughed it up when Robin Thicke made headlines after Marvin Gaye’s family dropped a lawsuit claiming “Blurred Lines” was simply “Got to Give It Up” but with a drum machine. That’s because Gaye tried to sue him when “Let Me Party With You” dropped. “Even the guy that worked for Marvin said that he studied my record for a month trying to figure out how to sue me,” Sigler told me. “The only thing that I had like his was the drum beat. See, I did it and it reminded you of his [song], but it was different. The melody was different – the only things [that were the same] were the party and the drum beats.”

Bunny Sigler in Bundino mode.

Bunny Sigler in Bundino mode.

As Sigler aged, he never stopped making music. As the winds of time favored fresher, hipper beats and snappier hooks, he took note and applied that to his own independently released material. You can hear it on his velvety Christmas album When You’re In Love at Christmas Time, or on his versatile disc 2012 album From Bunny With Love & A Little Soul and his last studio project, 2015’s Bundino.

Most people called him Mr. Emotion. He preferred to be known as “Bundino Siggalucci.” Oh boy, I can recall how in every conversation he would shift into his Bundino persona and start talking in Italian. He would show off his charm and Casanova skills, in case he thought that I didn’t believe he had swagger. Sigler didn’t have to prove himself to me, though. The music he left with us did all of that and some.

Today I honestly felt like I lost a good friend. That’s because if you came in contact with him, in any shape, form or fashion, he treated you like one. I’m glad he passed my way. And I hope somewhere on the other side, we will cross paths again.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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