Bobby Vee (Robert Thomas Velline) April 30, 1943 – October 24, 2016
Having written recently about the infamous 1959 Clear Lake plane crash that claimed Buddy Holly and the others, I thought it might be worth mentioning one more of the era’s singers who also had a connection with the event. You might even say that his long and successful career had its roots in that tragedy.
Bobby Vee (real name Velline) was just 16 at the time of the crash, but the young musician was leading his own fledgling group, the Shadows, and appearing in his home town of Fargo, North Dakota. Ironically enough, Fargo was the next stop for the rock show that had been staggered by the loss of the stars on the plane, and Bobby — who was a big admirer of Buddy Holly — found himself appearing in his idol’s place.
It was certainly an unusual start for a career, but even if Bobby was no Buddy, he soon began to attract the attention of recording companies. Within a few months he’d recorded “Suzie Baby,” which sold enough records to show the music industry that he had something they could sell. He was a good looking kid with a pleasant voice, and the decision makers began to build his career.
The next decade was very good for Bobby Vee. Beginning with 1960’s huge hit, “Devil Or Angel,” he began a string of chart-busters that turned him into a huge pop star. Songs like “Rubber Ball,” “Run To Him,” and his biggest, “Take Good Care of My Baby,” all seemed to be playing on every jukebox in those days.
Bobby Vee was everywhere, with stage and TV appearances part of the mix, and the record hits kept coming. Some of his biggest included “Charms” and “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes,” but by the latter part of the decade the British Invasion was in full force and Bobby’s career began to slow a little. He was still popular and still working regularly, but 1967’s “Come Back When You Grow Up” would be his last Top Ten hit.
Over the next few decades Bobby Vee kept his hand in with occasional recordings and spot appearances, and eventually the rise in popularity of the Oldies Tour helped fuel a comeback. He currently shows up from time to time in places like Branson, and still has a lot of fans.