Robert Thomas Velline (April 30, 1943 – October 24, 2016), known professionally as BOBBY VEE, was an American pop singer who was a teen idol in the early 1960s. According to Billboard magazine, he had thirty-eight Hot 100 chart hits, ten of which reached the Top 20,
His first single, “Suzie Baby,” was written by Vee with a nod to Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue” and recorded for the Minneapolis-based Soma Records in 1959; it was a huge hit in Minnesota and drew enough national attention to be purchased by Liberty Records, who signed him later that year. ,
Vee was also a pioneer in the music video genre, appearing in several musical films.
Vee’s 1961 summer release “Take Good Care of My Baby” went to number one on the Billboard U.S. listings and number three in the UK Singles Chart.
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, along with the 21-year-old pilot, Roger Peterson, in the crash of a V-tailed 1947 Beechcraft Bonanza airplane. (Dion DiMucci, the second 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 of age, and a hastily assembled band of Fargo schoolboys 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, Vee recalled Holly’s influence on him and the events surrounding Holly’s death.
“Like so many other people, I became a Buddy Holly fan the very first time I heard him sing. I’ve been a fan ever since and I guess I always will be. ”
……… I remember a few years ago when Buddy was scheduled to appear at a dance in my home town of Fargo, North Dakota. It was going to be a big event for the whole town, but even more so for me. I was anxiously looking forward to seeing Buddy in action…….
….The day he was to arrive disaster struck, taking Buddy’s life, along with the lives of two other fine singers, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. The shocking news spread through Fargo very quickly. The local radio station broadcast a plea for local talent to entertain at the scheduled dance. About a week before this, I had just organized a vocal and instrumental group of five guys. Our style was modelled after Buddy’s approach and we had been rehearsing with Buddy’s hits in mind. When we heard the radio plea for talent, we went in and volunteered. We hadn’t even named the group up to that time, so we gave ourselves a name on the spot, calling ourselves The Shadows. We appeared at the dance and were grateful to be enthusiastically accepted. Soon afterwards, I made my first record. It was called “Suzie Baby” and I was pretty lucky with it; it was a fair-sized hit.
For some time now, I have wanted to make an album in tribute to Buddy, but I wasn’t sure it was the proper thing to do. However, during the past year, I have received many requests to do such an album. These requests came not only from my fans and from DJs, but also from Buddy’s loyal following—still a large group of devoted fans. It…gave me the confidence to do the album. From “Suzie Baby” to this present album, I have made many records, but I have never forgotten Buddy Holly and his influence on my singing style and my career.” ( Bobby Vee )