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Bobby Vee dead: ’60s teen idol who replaced Buddy Holly, helped Bob Dylan was 73



Bobby Vee

In this Dec. 18, 2013 file photo, Bobby Vee plays the guitar at his family’s Rockhouse Productions in St. Joseph, Minn.

Former teen idol Bobby Vee is dead, according to the Associated Press. He was 73.

The son of the 1960s singer, who famously replaced Buddy Holly after the rock ‘n’ roll legend died in a plane crash with Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, said he died Monday of advanced Alzheimer’s disease. Jeff Velline said Vee was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011, the last year he performed in public.

Robert Velline was 15 when he answered an ad seeking someone to fill in for Holly’s slot at a Minnesota concert shortly after the Feb. 3, 1959, tragedy known as “The Day the Music Died.” According to the AP, Velline had been with a band for just two weeks when they volunteered as “Bobby Vee” and The Shadows.

“I didn’t have any fear right then,” Vee told the AP in 1999. “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 later made a name for himself as a solo singer, scoring 38 hits on the Billboard Top 100 charts from 1959 to 1970. His biggest songs “Take Good Care of My Baby” hit No. 1 in 1961 and “Run to Him” peaked at No. 2, after “Peggy Sue” knockoff single “Suzie Baby” pushed him into the national spotlight.
According to The Minneapolis Star Tribune, Vee helped Dylan get his start when he hired the singer-songwriter for a brief stint as the piano player for The Shadows in 1959. Dylan, then known as Robert Zimmerman, didn’t know how to play the piano well at the time but returned the favor in 2013 at a St. Paul, Minnesota, concert where he performed “Suzie Baby” and dedicated it to Vee.

“I lived here a while back, and since that time I’ve played all over the world, with all kinds of people. Everybody from Mick Jagger to Madonna and everybody in between,” Dylan told the crowd. “But the most beautiful person I’ve ever been on the stage with was a man who’s here tonight, who used to sing a song called ‘Suzie Baby.’ I’m gonna say that Bobby Vee is actually here tonight. Maybe you could show your appreciation with just a round of applause. So we’ve been trying to do this song, like I’ve done it with him before once or twice — ‘Suzie Baby.'”

Vee’s wife of more than 50 years, Karen, died of kidney failure last year. The couple had four children.