Bobby Vee was born Robert Thomas Velline in Fargo, North Dakota
on April 30, 1943 into a musical family. His father Sidney played
the violin and piano, his uncle played sax, and his two older brothers,
Sidney, Jr. both played guitar. By the age of fifteen Bobby's musical
career was already under way. "I played saxophone in the high
school band," remembers Bobby, "but I wanted to rock out.
We were playing all the standard band pieces and I wanted to do
'Yakety Yak.' My brother Bill went out and bought a guitar and I
saved up enough money from my paper route to eventually buy a new
(but sun faded) thirty dollar Harmony guitar for myself. Before
long Bill had become an excellent guitar player and began jamming
with bass player Jim Stillman and drummer Bob Korum.
At this point, as the result of a tragic twist of fate, Bobby's
story begins to take on a bitter sweet flavor. The date was February
3, 1959. A light plane carrying Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, The
Big Bopper and 20 year old pilot Roger Peterson crashed in a snow
covered Iowa field, killing everyone on board.
The promoters asked for local talent to help fill in that sad night
and as the curtain came up that evening, a new voice was introduced
to the world. A "fifteen year old" voice that knew all
the words to all the songs, Bobby Vee.
In the following forty plus years Bobby would go on to place thirty-eight
songs in the Billboard top 100 charts, six gold singles, fourteen
top forty hits and two gold albums.
June 1st 1959 Bobby and the group went to Minneapolis, Minnesota
to record a song for Soma Records that Bobby had written called
"Susie Baby." By the end of the summer, "Susie
Baby" had reached number one on all the local stations
in the upper mid-west and major record companies were calling with
interest in signing this new young singer. Bobby Vee and the Shadows
signed with Liberty Records in the fall of '59 and the band continued
on until 1963, when Bill deciding the road was not to his liking,
left to pursue interests closer to home.
Late 1960 after a couple of songs had barely inched their way into
the national charts it appeared that Liberty was losing faith when
a radio station in Pittsburgh, PA began playing the back side of
what might have been Bobby's last single. The song was "Devil
or Angel." It had been a R&B hit a few years earlier
by a group called The Clovers and was a favorite of Snuffy Garrett,
the young producer responsible for signing Bobby to Liberty. Following
the records success in Pittsburgh, "Devil or Angel"
went on to reach the top ten in city after city. By the end of 1960
it peaked at number 6 in the Billboard charts, as well as reaching
the top 20 on the R & B charts. Liberty Records exercised its
option and signed Bobby to a five year contract.
'Devil or Angel' was certainly the foundation for a string of hit
records reaching the nations top 20 throughout the entire 60's era.
By 1963 he had collected seven top ten hits in England as well as
a number 2 album called "Bobby Vee Meets the Crickets"
and in 1963 shared the charts for forty weeks side-by-side with
the Beatles. His forty plus year recording career has produced over
twenty-five albums including a Gold Album from England for his 1981
"Singles Album" release. Back in the U.S., Billboard Magazine
called him, "One of the top ten most consistent chart makers
the '90s with the continuing demand for product by classic oriented
radio stations and collectors alike, EMI/Cema issued a twenty-five
song re-mastered compact disc and cassette as part of the Legendary
Masters series. Late in the year, a re-issue of his 1963 Christmas
album was made available. To coincide with his sold out 1990 tour
of England, Bobby issued a 17 song collectors edition cassette called
"U.K. Tour '90," on his own Rockhouse Record label. The
tape, an anthology of sorts, included new material recorded with
his sons, as well as several previously unreleased songs from past
years. In 1994 critics and collectors gave great reviews to his
"Last Of The Great 'Rhythm' Guitar Players" CD. As testimony
to Bobby's high energy show and continued popularity the annual
readers poll by sixties music magazine The Beat Goes On voted him:
1991 Best American Act; 1992 Best Live Performer; 1993 Favorite
Male Singer; and in 1994 he was named Runner Up to Paul McCartney
in the category of Most Accomplished Performer.
Between Europe, Australia and America, Bobby and his band which
today includes two of his sons and a his nephew (his brother Bill's
son) perform about a hundred dates a year. When he is not touring
or working on his own music, he is involved in the production of
various other musical projects at his Rockhouse Recording Studio,
located outside of St. Cloud, MN.
From the white socks and ducktail days of "Susie Baby"
to the high tech digital present, Bobby has
continued to grow as an artist and entertainer and to enjoy a loyal
following of fans and friends alike.
For Booking Information:
Regarding True Legends of Pop: e-Mail Tommy Vee at firstname.lastname@example.org