Bobby Vee (April 30, 1943 - October 24, 2016) was a veteran pop/rock singer, songwriter, and rhythm guitarist who became famous during the early 1960s. His many signature songs included such early rock & roll classics as "Rubber Ball" (1960), "Take Good Care Of My Baby" (1961), and "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" (1962), and he also made his mark in pop and later soft rock with "Devil Or Angel" (1960), "Run To Him" (1961), and "Come Back When You Grow Up" (1967). A popular teen idol, he appeared and performed in "Swingin' Along" (1961), "Play It Cool" (1962), "Just For Fun" (1963), and "C'mon, Let's Live A Little" (1967). He was also a featured artist in the Scopitone series of jukebox recordings, an early forerunner of music videos.
Born Robert Thomas Velline in Fargo, North Dakota, he began his music career in 1959 at age 15 as a stand-in for Buddy Holly, his idol and main early influence. Along with Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, Holly was killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa while en route to Moorhead, Minnesota where their next show was scheduled to take place. In response to a radio station calling out for local talent to fill in at the Moorhead concert, Velline, who had been looking forward to attending this event, formed a band called The Shadows whose members included his older brother Bill. The Shadows were saddled with the sad and daunting task of substituting for the rock & roll legend, and despite some initial misgivings, their performance turned out to be a huge success, eventually leading to a contact with Liberty Records. (The Shadows, who continued to back Vee on the road through 1963, later renamed themselves The Strangers after learning of the same-named backing band for Cliff Richard.)
Bobby Vee debuted on the Pop/Rock charts in 1959 with "Suzie Baby" (1959, as Bobby Vee & The Shadows), a song he wrote that was inspired by Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue." His fame took off the following year with his version of The Clovers' "Devil Or Angel" (1960), which became the first of many Top 10 hits and his first gold record. This smash was followed soon after by "Rubber Ball" (1960), which became his second gold record and brought him international fame. Vee had his greatest hit in 1961 with "Take Good Care Of My Baby," which topped the charts and went gold. He scored two more Top 5 hits with "Run To Him" (1961) and "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" (1962), both of which also went gold. The latter song was a crossover success, reaching the Top 5 and Top 10 on the Adult Contemporary and R&B charts, respectively. After about five years of mostly minor hits, Vee's popularity was revived in 1967 with "Come Back When You Grow Up" (credited to Bobby Vee & The Strangers), a tender soft rock ballad which became a Top 5 hit and his sixth gold record. Vee's long string of hits also included "Please Don't Ask About Barbara" (1962), "Sharing You" (1962), "Punish Her" (1962), "Charms" (1963), "Be True To Yourself" (1963), and "Beautiful People" (1967, as Bobby Vee & The Strangers). Other songs for which he is well known include an early cover of the Sonny Curtis/Jerry Allison penned ballad, "More Than I Can Say" (1961), which became a Top 5 hit many years later for Leo Sayer in 1980. Vee's final charting song came in 1975 with "Loving You," an Adult Contemporary chart Top 40 hit.
Bobby Vee continued to tour and record actively through 2011 when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. His many honors and accolades included being inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2011.
- Bobby Vee discusses how he came up with his stage name (Vee) and other topics in an interview with Gary James of classicbands.com (ca. late 1990s).
- The Guardian remembers Bobby Vee.
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Bobby Vee And The Strangers
- Beautiful People 1967
(This song also became a hit for Kenny O'Dell (1967).)
- Come Back When You Grow Up 1967
- Devil Or Angel 1960
- More Than I Can Say 1961
(This song later also became a hit for Leo Sayer (1980).)
- The Night Has A Thousand Eyes 1962
- One Last Kiss 1960
- Please Don't Ask About Barbara 1962
- Punish Her 1962
- Rubber Ball 1960
- Run To Him 1961
- Sharing You 1962
- Stayin' In 1961
- Take Good Care Of My Baby 1961
(This song topped the charts and later also became a hit for Bobby Vinton (1968).)
- Walkin' With My Angel 1961
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