Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Late Great Bobby Vee

Legendary singer Bobby Vee, known for such hits as "Take Good Care of My Baby", "Run to Him", and "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes", died on October 24 2016 at the age of 73. The cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

Bobby Vee was born Robert Velline in Fargo, North Dakota on April 30 1943. Music ran in Mr. Vee's family. His father, Sidney Velline, could play violin and piano. He had two older brothers who could play guitar. In his high school's band Bobby Vee played saxophone. He bought his first guitar with money he saved up from his paper route.

Sadly, Bobby Vee's first big break would come about because of the plane crash that cost the lives of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens on February 3 1959. The performers had been en route to Moorhead, Minnesota to play at a dance there. Rather than cancelling the dance, its promoters asked on a local radio station for performers to replace Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens. Fifteen year old Bobby and his brother Bill, with their band The Shadows (not to be confused with Cliff Richard's band of the same name), called the station and as a result were placed on the bill.

It was six months later that Bobby Vee's first single, "Suzy Baby", was recorded for local Minnesota label Soma Records. The song did well enough in the Minnesota market to attract the attention of Liberty Records, who signed Bobby Vee to a contract. His first single for Liberty, "What Do You Want", was released in early 1960. His first hit would be a cover of The Clovers' "Devil or Angel", which peaked at no. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was followed up by his next hit, "Rubber Ball", which also went to no. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Rubber Ball" proved to be his first hit in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at no. 4. His first LP, Bobby Vee Sings Your Favourites, was also released in 1960.

It was on July 20 1961 that Bobby Vee's biggest hit was released. "Take Good Care of My Baby" went all the way to no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and no. 3 on the UK singles chart. It was followed by his second biggest hit, "Run to Him", which peaked at no. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and no. 6 on the UK singles chart. For much of 1962 Mr. Vee continued to hit the top twenty of the Billboard Hot 100. His biggest hit of the year was "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes", which peaked at no. 3 in the U.S. and the UK.

Unfortunately Bobby Vee's career would stall in 1963. His single "Charms" would be the only single to hit the top forty of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at no. 13. Bobby Vee would have one last major hit in the Sixties, "Come Back When You Grow Up". It peaked at no. 3 in 1967. Despite this Bobby Vee continued to perform and to record. In 1972 he released the album Nothin' Like A Sunny Day. In 1999 he released the album Down The Line. In 2002 he released the album I Wouldn't Change A Thing. His final album, The Adobe Sessions, was released in 2014.

In the Sixties Bobby Vee appeared frequently in television shows and even films. He appeared as himself in the films Swingin' Along (1961), Play It Cool (1962), and Just for Fun (1963). His only acting gig was in the film C'mon, Let's Live a Little (1967).

In the Sixties Bobby Vee was phenomenally successful. He had six singles that were certified gold (Devil or Angel", "Rubber Ball", Take Good Care of My Baby", "Run to Him", "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes", and  "Come Back When You Grow Up"). He had eight songs hit the top ten and many more that reached the Billboard Hot 100. And while the peak of his career lasted only for a few years, Bobby Vee would prove to be influential. No less than The Beatles recorded a cover of "Take Good Care of My Baby" for their audition for Decca Records. He would also have an impact on Bob Dylan's career, having hired Mr. Dylan as a pianist early in his career. Bobby Vee's songs would be covered by Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Herman's Hermits, Mud, and Smokie. One of the biggest artists of the era between Buddy Holly's death and The Beatles' arrival in the United States, Bobby Vee had a lasting influence on popular music.

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