Bobby Vee has died, aged 73.
The Minnesota-born singer enjoyed huge popularity and success in the early 1960s, which included his first and only Number One single in the US, ‘Take Good Care of My Baby’, in 1961. He went on to release over 25 albums in a career that spanned over 50 years, retiring from performing in 2011 after announcing that he had Alzheimer’s disease.
Vee’s career took off when he famously filled in for his hero, Buddy Holly, after the young rock and roll icon died in a plane crash on February 3, 1959 along with fellow musicians Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. After the news was announced, the organisers of the touring concert Holly was playing in, the Winter Dance Party, put out a call for local acts to fill in for the next show in Moorhead, Minnesota. Vee and his band The Shadows, who had only played together for the first time two weeks previously, successfully volunteered to play, and their subsequent performance launched Vee’s career at the tender age of 15.
Vee was also notable for giving a young Bob Dylan his first start in music. Searching for a pianist who could “put it down like Jerry Lee [Lewis]”, Vee ended up recruiting a young musician who went by the name Elston Gunnn – one of Dylan’s first aliases. Although he only played a handful of dates with Vee, it was considered to be one of Dylan’s first professional forays into the music world. Dylan paid tribute to Vee during a 2013 concert in St. Paul’s, Minnesota, where he praised him as “the most beautiful person I’ve ever been on the stage with.”
Vee scored 38 top Billboard 100 hits and seven gold records in the US, while he also enjoyed a fine run of success in the UK. His only US Number One, ‘Take Good of My Baby’, hit number 3 in the UK. Other Vee hits included ‘The Night Has A Thousand Eyes’, ‘Come Back When You Grow Up’, and ‘Punish Her’.
Vee (far left) with The Beatles
During the height of Vee’s popularity, he also performed on the same bill as The Rolling Stones during their first ever US tour dates. The Beatles also cited Vee as an early influence, covering ‘Take Good of My Baby’ during their January 1962 Decca demo sessions and inviting Vee on their U.K. television show, Ready Steady Go.
Vee died peacefully earlier today, with his family at his side.