Bobby Vee (born Robert Thomas Velline, April 30, 1943, Fargo,
North Dakota, United States) is an American pop music singer. According to Billboard magazine Vee has had 38 Hot 100 chart hits, 10 of which hit the Top 20.
Born in Fargo, North Dakota in 1943, Robert Thomas Velline was still in his teens when he formed his first combo, the Shadows, with his brother Bill and their friend Bob Korum. The trio were playing around the area when their big break came, at the expense of one of Bobby's musical idols; the Winter Dance Party package tour, with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper were on their way to Fargo when their plane went down in Iowa, killing all three. The Shadows were scheduled to play the date instead of Holly, and several months later, producer Tommy "Snuff" Garrett supervised their first recording session and the release of the single "Suzie Baby" on Soma Records. Liberty/RCA picked up the single later in the year, and though it just barely scraped the pop charts, the label kept plugging with Vee as a solo act, recording him on Adam Faith's "What Do You Want?," which also failed to move.
Vee was subsequently groomed as a soloist, his college-boy looks and boy-next-door persona cleverly combined with a canon of teenage anthems provided by Brill Building songwriters. One of his first recordings was a cover of Adam Faith's "What Do You Want?", which failed to emulate the British artist's UK chart-topping success. After charting in the US Top 10 with a revival of the Clovers' 1956 hit "Devil Or Angel", Vee found transatlantic success via the infectious, if lyrically innocuous, "Rubber Ball". Between 1961 and 1962, he peaked with a series of infectious hits including "More Than I Can Say", "How Many Tears", "Take Good Care Of My Baby" (a US number 1), "Run To Him", "Please Don't Ask About Barbara", and "Sharing You". The imaginatively titled "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" proved his most enduring song and reached the US Top 3.
Like many American teen-orientated artists, Vee's appeal waned following the arrival of the Beatles and the beat group explosion. He did manage a couple of film appearances (Just For Fun and C'mon, Let's Live A Little) before the hit bubble burst. While
Beatlemania raged, he reverted to the work of his original inspiration, Buddy Holly. Both Bobby Vee Meets The Crickets and Bobby Vee Meets The Ventures were promoted by touring. In 1967, Vee returned to the US Top 5 with "Come Back When You Grow Up'. An attempt to fashion a more serious image prompted Vee to revert to his real name for 1972"s Nothing Like A Sunny Day. The experiment was short-lived, however, and Vee later contented himself with regular appearances at rock 'n' roll revival shows and to record new material in the style of Holly.
Vee married Karen Bergen of Detroit Lakes, MN, in December
1963, and fathered three sons and a daughter. Between Europe and America, Bobby and his band continued to perform about a hundred dates a year. When he was not touring or working on his own music, he remained involved in the production of various other musical projects at his Rockhouse Recording Studio, located outside of St. Cloud, MN. His backup band, The Vees, included his two elder sons, Jeff and Tommy Vee. His youngest son, Robby Vee, is also a recording and performing artist. Bobby Vee is a recipient of the state of North Dakota's Roughrider Award and his contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 2009 he was also inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
In 2011, following a shocking diagnosis of early Alzheimer’s Disease, the decision was made to retire. Bobby pulled back from touring and had a stretch of retirement shows including Joetown Rocks in St. Joseph, an annual event he helped to create.
For much of 2011, he concentrated on his two loves – his music and his family. He loaded up the family and made a cross country RV trip to Tucson, Arizona to move into their new winter home. The singer wrote on his website: 'As my buddy Fabian says, getting old is not for the meek. I think he may be right. A little over a year ago I was diagnosed with the mild stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Needless to say, it was a moment that stunned my family and myself to the core.
'I have chosen to remain private and to focus on what is most important to me: my family and my music.' He continued, 'It has been a time to reflect and just be good. To create memories for my grandchildren and to celebrate life’s goodness.” (info various mainly NME)