Bobby Day, rhythm-and-blues singer and bandleader, was born Robert James Byrd, Sr., on July 1, 1928, in Fort Worth. He was the son of Julia Jennings. About 1947 Byrd, not to be confused with a funk musician named Bobby Byrd, moved to Los Angeles and began his performing career under the stage name Bobby Day at Johnny Otis's Barrelhouse Club. By 1950 he had helped form the Hollywood Flames, with whom he made a hit recording, "Buzz Buzz Buzz" (1957). In 1957 he formed a second musical group, the Satellites, which backed him on his hit "Little Bitty Pretty One," which Day wrote. He was also the first to record Jimmie Thomas's "Rockin' Robin" (1958), the song by which most pop music lovers recognize Day. The song became a Number 2 hit on the Billboard charts.
As Bobby Day,Byrd was also the original Bob of the R&B duo Bob and Earl, when he performed with Earl Nelson from 1957 to 1959. Day and Nelson met in 1957, when the latter joined the Hollywood Flames. As the Flames' lead singer, Nelson was spotlighted on Day's "Buzz Buzz Buzz." Byrd's unique baritone voice kept him in demand with a variety of recording labels, including Rendezvous, RCA, and Sure-Shot. For Jama Records he sang lead with the Day Birds. His "doo-wop" style was revived by performers of the 1960s and 1970s. The Dave Clark Five had a hit with his song “Over and Over” in 1965, and the Jackson 5 rerecorded "Rockin' Robin" in 1972. Byrd established Byrdland Attractions and Quiline Publishing, songwriting enterprises. He died on July 27, 1990, in Los Angeles and was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. He was survived by his wife, Jackie, and four children.
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Colin Larkin, ed., The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Chester, Connecticut: New England Publishing Associates, 1992). Los Angeles Times, July 30, 1990. Norm N. Nite, Rock On: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock n' Roll (New York: Crowell, 1974–).
Genres (Rock and Roll, Rhythm and Blues, and Rockabilly)
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Byrd, Robert James, Sr. [Bobby Day],”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 20, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
May 1, 1995
Most Recent Revision Date:
October 12, 2020
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: