Remembering Bobby Vee


On October 24th 2016, American singer-songwriter Bobby Vee passed away due to complications with Alzheimer’s Disease. Born Robert Velline in Fargo, North Dakota on April 30th 1943, Vee grew up surrounded by music. By his high school years he had joined a band with his older brother Bill known as the Shadows.

Bobby Vee’s road to fame started when a plane carrying musicians Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper crashed in Iowa on the way to a concert in Moorhead, Minnesota, killing everyone on board. The day was February 3rd 1959, otherwise known as “The Day The Music Died.”  However, despite this tragedy, a decision was made that the show must go on.  A search to find local talent found a 15-year-old Bobby Vee who claimed to know all the words to all the songs planned.  And so, Bobby Vee and the Shadows took to the stage, setting in motion Vee’s future career.

During his 50-plus years in the music industry Vee achieved worldwide fame with hits such as ‘Suzie’s Baby’ and with 6 songs  (‘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’) achieving gold single status. He also had 38 “Hot 100” chart songs with around ten reaching the top 20 mark.

ca. 1960 --- Pop singer Bobby Vee. --- Image by © Michael Levin/Corbis
© Michael Levin/Corbis
ca. 1960 — Pop singer Bobby Vee. — Image by © Michael Levin/Corbis

In 1963 Vee married Karen Bergen, and he moved to Saint Cloud, MN in the 1980’s. They had four children, three of whom would join Vee to play on the stage in later years. Bobby officially retired from the music scene in 2011 due to Alzheimer’s. His funeral was held at the Saint John’s Abbey Church in Collegeville, Minnesota on November 2nd.

The funeral was beautiful and unique, as the Eucharist was followed by Rock n’ Roll.  The priest spoke of ‘jam sessions,’ calling Vee an “Ambassador of Joy.” In the end, Bobby Vee was a man of music, charming in nature and compassionate for his craft, a man like no other who will be sorely missed in this world.