Bobby Vee Part Two
In Bobby Vee Part Two, I’ll be typing about him and listening to his songs, but mainly about him, for he’s the one that we are here, to learn about.
The Day the Music Died
Vee‘s career began in the midst of tragedy. On February 3, 1959, “The Day the Music Died,“ three of the four headline acts in the lineup of the traveling Winter Dance Party— Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper— were killed in the crash of a V-tailed 1947 Beechcraft Bonanza airplane, along with the 21-year-old pilot, Roger Peterson. (Dion DiMucci, the fourth headliner, had opted not to travel on the plane.) It crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa, en route to the next show on the tour itinerary, in Moorhead, Minnesota. Velline, then 15 years old, and ahastily assembled band of Fargo schoolboys (including his older brother Bill) calling themselves the Shadows volunteered for and were given the unenviable job of filling in for Holly and his band at the Moorhead engagement. Their performance there was a success, setting in motion a chain of events that led to Vee‘s career as a popular singer.
In 1963, Vee released a tribute album on Liberty Records called I Remember Buddy Holly. In the liner notes, he recalled Holly‘s influence on him and the events surrounding Holly‘s death, describing how he had looked forward to attending the concert, how the local radio station put out a call for local talent to fill after the disaster, and how Vee‘s recently-organized, group, modeled on Holly‘s style, had to make up a name (the Shadows) on the spot.
Vee went on to become a bona fide star. He regularly performed at Winter Dance Party memorial concerts in Clear Lake. His three sons, all musicians, performed with him there.
Connection with Bob Dylan
Early in Vee‘s career, a musician calling himself Elston Gunn briefly toured with the band. This was Robert Allen Zimmerman, who later went on to fame as Bob Dylan. Dylan‘s autobiography mentions Vee and provides complimentary details about their friendship, both professional and personal.
In a concert at Midway Stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota, on July 10, 2013, Dylan said he had been on the stage with many stars, but that none of them were as meaningful as Vee. He said Vee was in the audience and then played Vee‘s hit“Suzie Baby“ with emotion. Dylan said (in a video recording of the concert):.
Thank you everyone, thank you friends. I lived here a while back, and since that time, I‘ve played all over the world, with all kinds of people. And everybody from Mick Jagger to Madonna. And everybody in there in between. I‘ve been on the stage with most of those people. But the most beautiful person I‘ve ever been on the stage with, was a man who is here tonight, who used to sing a song called “Suzie Baby“. I want to say that Bobby Vee is actually here tonight. Maybe you can show your appreciation with just a round of applause. So, we‘re gon na try to do this song, like I‘ve done it with him before once or twice.
Dylan also recalled that Vee “had a metallic, edgy tone to his voice and it was as musical as a silver bell.“ Vee remembered that the musician he knew as Gunn(Bob Dylan) “played pretty good in the key of C.“
Vee in 1998.
Vee and Karen Bergen married December 28, 1963. In the early 1980s, Veemoved his family from Los Angeles to near St. Cloud, Minnesota, where he and Karenorganized annual fundraising concerts to provide music and arts facilities for local children. They had four children, including sons Jeffrey, Thomas, and Robert, who performed with Vee in his later career, and daughter Jennifer. Karen died of kidney failure on August 3, 2015.
Bobby and his sons opened and operated Rockhouse Productions in an old bankbuilding in St. Joseph, Minnesota, which continues in operation. The Vees helpedorganize and performed for a number of years in the annual July 3rd St. Joseph“Joetown Rocks“ festival drawing many thousands of fans and area residents.
Last Years and Death
Vee continued performing live until 2011 when diagnosed with Alzheimer‘s disease. In 2011, friends and family contributed to his final new recordings which were eventually released as The Adobe Sessions on February 3, 2014. On April 29,2012, Vee announced publicly that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer‘s and consequently would withdraw from the music business. He had been in memory care for 13 months in a long-term care facility in Rogers, Minnesota, just outside of Minneapolis, and eventually received hospice care in the weeks prior to his death. On October 24, 2016, Vee died from complications of the disease at the age of 73.
Over the course of his career Vee achieved six gold singles and one gold album.
• “Devil or Angel“ (1960 ).
• “Rubber Ball“ (1961 ).
• “Take Good Care of My Baby“ (1961 ).
• “Run to Him“ (1961 ).
• “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes“ (1962 ).
• “Come Back When You Grow Up“ (1967) (Bobby Vee and The Strangers).
• The Bobby Vee Singles Album (1980) certified gold in the UK.
• Swingin‘ Along (1961 ), Lippert Films, color, 74 minutes, director: CharlesBarton, producer: Jack Leewood, screenplay: Arthur Morton. – Himself.
A comedy about a songwriting contest, originally released in 1961 as DoubleTrouble. Scenes were added of Ray Charles (doing “What ‘d I Say“) and Bobby Vee (“More Than I Can Say“).
• Play It Cool (1962 ), Allied Artists, black and white, 82 minutes, director:Michael Winner, producers: Leslie Parkyn, Julian Wintle, screenplay: Jack Henry. –Himself.
Selection of early 1960s performers woven through a plot about a bratty, richteenage girl looking for her boyfriend. Vee sings “At A Time Like This“.
• Just for Fun (1963 ), Columbia Pictures, black and white, 85 minutes, director:Gordon Fleming, producer and screenplay: Milton Subotsky. – Himself.
British teens win the right to vote, so the two major political parties strive towin this new voting bloc to their sides. Meanwhile, there‘s a parade of pop starsincluding Freddy Cannon, Ketty Lester, Jeremy Lloyd, Bobby Vee, the Crickets, theSpringfields, Jet Harris, Tony Meehan, Joe Brown and the Bruvvers, the Tornados,Brian Poole and the Tremeloes and Johnny Tillotson. Vee sings “All You Got ta DoIs Touch Me“ and “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes“.
• C’mon, Let‘s Live a Little (1967 ), Paramount Pictures, color, 85 minutes;director: David Butler; producers: John Herelandy, June Starr; screenplay: JuneStarr. – Jesse Crawford.