Bobby Vee, a singer-songwriter who became one of the leading pop stars of the late 1950s and early ’60s, has died at age 73 of complications from Alzheimer’s. Vee died at a memory care facility in Rogers, Minn., where he had been living for the past 13 months, reports the St. Cloud Times.
A Fargo native, Vee saw his career take off after he and his band filled in for Buddy Holly the night after the 1959 plane crash that claimed the lives of Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “the Big Bopper” Richardson. That same year, Vee briefly hired a young Bob Zimmerman as a piano player in his band; the gig didn’t last, in part because it was just too hard to bring a piano on the road.
Zimmerman used his brief stint in the star’s band as a calling card when he began his solo career first in Minneapolis and then in New York as Bob Dylan — and remembered Vee fondly, so much so that Dylan gave Vee a rare on-stage shout-out and covered Vee’s early hit “Suzie Baby” when he played St. Paul’s Midway Stadium in 2013. “I’ve played with everybody from Mick Jagger to Madonna,” said Dylan, “but the most meaningful person I’ve ever been on stage with is Bobby Vee.”
Vee’s pop hits included the chart-topping “Take Good Care of My Baby” (1961) and top ten hits “Devil or Angel,” “Rubber Ball,” “Run to Him,” “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes,” and “Come Back When You Grow Up.” Over the course of his career, Vee landed a total of 38 singles on Billboard’s Hot 100. His last album, The Adobe Sessions, was released in 2014.
After a stint in California, Vee ultimately settled with his family in St. Joseph, Minn. Teen Idol, a musical that tells Vee’s life story, co-written by his sons, is now playing at St. Paul’s History Theatre.