While the name might not roll of the tongue, Bunny Sigler was a formidable force in R & B, soul and disco music from the 1950’s until his early death this year.
Born in 1941, the Philly native embraced music from an early age. His early hits like 'Let The Good Times Roll' and 'Girl Don’t Make Me Wait' (brilliantly covered by disco artist Pattie Brooks on her 'Our Ms Brooks' album in 1977) were on par with Little Richard and Chuck Berry. He hooked up with numerous labels as a vocalist in the ‘50s before establishing his talents as a producer for various acts of the day including the O’Jays (“Love Train”) and a plethora of artists in the black music circuit, according various degrees of success.
This respected stalwart of the R & B community came to this writer’s attention in the later months of 2009. 30 years after it was released, his unashamed disco outing 'By The Way You Dance' came to my attention via a compilation. The remixes were as impressive as the original, taken from his album 'I’ve Always Wanted To Sing'.
The title of that album said it all: for years, Walter, as his real name was, produced or wrote for dozens of acts. But in 1979, something special was exploding in the United States: disco. Although Bunny had done the odd song here and there ('Locked In This Position' with Barbara Mason in 1978 was a glorious example), he decided to join the disco race with “Dance” to amazing effect.
At the same time, Marvin Gaye had just scored a massive hit with 'Got To Give It Up' which fit perfectly into the laid-back druggy disco environment of certain clubs. Bunny, for a joke, played it up with a tune called 'Let Me Party With You'. Never expecting it to catch on, and being accused of jumping on the bandwagon, the song exploded on the disco scene in America. At the same time in the UK, the enormous popularity of the Northern Soul scene ensured that Bunny was at the forefront of dancers shoes and hearts with his ‘60s songs built out of good old fashioned soul music.
Pumped at the New York’s Paradise Garage, the thumping bass of 'By The Way You Dance' propelled it into disco heaven. At the same time, Bunny had helped the Salsoul group Instant Funk, best known for their monster hit 'I Got My Mind My Made Up' into megastars.
His numerous solo hits, written either for himself or for others like Labelle, Loleatta Holloway, Pattie Brooks and Instant Funk – of which scurrilous rumours surround the recording of said recording 'I Got My My Mind Made Up' “inspired” the group to perform to give it all they had with enticements – were enough to secure his place in music history.
He continued after the decline of disco and the difficult period that black artists faced in the '80s. After one more album for album for Salsoul entitled 'Let It Snow' in 1980, his hiatus as a recording artist lasted for more than twenty years. Yet in that time he co-wrote 'The Rulers Back' on Jay-Z’s hip hop album 'The Blueprint'.
Bunny Sigler died from a massive heart attack on October 6, 2017. Soul groups and singers such as Labelle and Earl Young from the Trammps expressed their sadness. Thank you for making us dance Bunny.