1960s pop singer Bobby Vee has died at age 73

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OBITUARIES - By Jeff Bae­nen

Pop idol Bobby Vee, the boy­ish, grin­ning 1960s singer whose ca­reer was born when he took a Mid­west­ern stage as a teenager to fill in af­ter the 1959 plane crash that killed rock ‘n’ roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bop­per” Richard­son, has died. He was 73.

Vee, whose hits in­cluded the chart-top­ping “Take Good Care of My Baby” and who helped a young Bob Dy­lan get his start, died Mon­day of ad­vanced Alzheimer’s dis­ease, said his son, Jeff Velline. Vee was di­ag­nosed with Alzheimer’s dis­ease in 2011, and per­formed his last show that year.

Vee had been in mem­ory care at The Well­stead of Rogers & Di­a­mond­crest in Rogers, about 25 miles north­west of Min­neapo­lis, for the past 13 months and in hos­pice care in re­cent weeks, his son said.

Vee died peace­fully sur­rounded by fam­ily, Velline said, call­ing it “the end of a long hard road.”

He said his fa­ther was “a per­son who brought joy all over the world. That was his job.”

Born Robert Velline in Fargo, North Dakota, Vee was only 15 when he took the stage in Moor­head, Min­nesota, af­ter the Feb. 3, 1959, plane crash in Iowa that killed Holly, Valens and Richard­son on their way to the con­cert. That dark day in rock his­tory was com­mem­o­rated by singer-song­writer Don McLean in his 1972 pop song “Amer­i­can Pie” as “The Day The Mu­sic Died.”

The call went out for lo­cal acts to re­place Holly at his sched­uled show at the Moor­head Na­tional Guard Ar­mory. Vee and his 2-week-old band vol­un­teered, along with three or four other bands. The show’s emcee, Char­lie Boone, then a disc jockey at KFGO Ra­dio, turned to Vee and asked him the name of his band. Vee looked at the shad­ows of his band­mates on the floor and an­swered: The Shad­ows.

“I didn’t have any fear right then,” Vee re­called in a 1999 in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press. “The fear didn’t hit me un­til the spot­light came on, and then I was just shat­tered by it. I didn’t think that I’d be able to sing. If I opened my mouth, I wasn’t sure any­thing would come out.”

Vee called his de­but a mile­stone in his life, and “the start of a won­der­ful ca­reer.”

Within months the young singer and The Shad­ows, which in­cluded his older brother Bill on lead gui­tar, recorded Vee’s “Suzie Baby” for Soma Records in Min­neapo­lis. It was a re­gional hit, and Vee soon signed with Lib­erty Records.

JEFF BAE­NEN — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

In this file photo, Bobby Vee poses at the stu­dio con­sole at his fam­ily’s Rock­house Pro­duc­tions in St. Joseph, Minn. Vee, whose rise to­ward star­dom be­gan as a 15-year-old fill-in for Buddy Holly af­ter Holly was killed in a plane crash, died Mon­day of com­pli­ca­tions from Alzheimer’s dis­ease. He was 73.

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