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Bobby Vee

Bobby Vee

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Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Bobby Vee started out in the shadow of his musical hero, Buddy Holly. When Holly's plane crashed in February 1959, Holly was on the way to a concert in Moorhead, Minnesota. Instead of cancelling the show, a local radio station put out a call for local bands to fill in. First to respond was a newly-formed, Holly-inspired band from nearby Fargo, North Dakota called the Shadows, fronted by the 15-year-old singer/guitarist Robert Velline. The show was a success and Velline, now taking the name Bobby Vee, put out his first single, the Holly-styled "Suzie Baby," later that year. It was a huge hometown hit and a modest national one, getting Vee signed to Liberty Records where he'd begin a run of hits. At Liberty he moved away from the Holly sound and toward a slicker pop approach that got him pegged as a teen idol; the commercial-minded producer Snuff Garrett sweetened his records with female backup singers and strings. And while some of his hits ("Take Good Care of My Baby," "Run to Him") worked the teen-heartbreak angle, others were more adventurous: "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" was a great rocker with a very grown-up lyric-and a B-side, "Anonymous Phone Call," written by then-unknown Burt Bacharach....

Bobby Vee started out in the shadow of his musical hero, Buddy Holly. When Holly's plane crashed in February 1959, Holly was on the way to a concert in Moorhead, Minnesota. Instead of cancelling the show, a local radio station put out a call for local bands to fill in. First to respond was a newly-formed, Holly-inspired band from nearby Fargo, North Dakota called the Shadows, fronted by the 15-year-old singer/guitarist Robert Velline. The show was a success and Velline, now taking the name Bobby Vee, put out his first single, the Holly-styled "Suzie Baby," later that year. It was a huge hometown hit and a modest national one, getting Vee signed to Liberty Records where he'd begin a run of hits. At Liberty he moved away from the Holly sound and toward a slicker pop approach that got him pegged as a teen idol; the commercial-minded producer Snuff Garrett sweetened his records with female backup singers and strings. And while some of his hits ("Take Good Care of My Baby," "Run to Him") worked the teen-heartbreak angle, others were more adventurous: "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" was a great rocker with a very grown-up lyric-and a B-side, "Anonymous Phone Call," written by then-unknown Burt Bacharach. Another hit was "Stayin' In," a tale of high-school romantic rivalry with one of the era's best opening lines: "I punched my buddy in the nose after lunch." Still carrying a torch for Holly he recorded an album with the Crickets in 1962 and a tribute album, I Remember Buddy Holly in 1963. That year also brought another collaborative album, with instrumental group the Ventures, that was all rock & roll without the production frills. The arrival of the Beatles put an end to Vee's hit streak, but I didn't put him out of business. In 1964 he was one of the first old-guard rockers to embrace the British Invasion with an album, The New Sound from England, that was mostly original songs with a beat-group style. After a long dry spell he made one last appearance in the Top Ten with 1967's "Come Back When You Grow Up," which had more of a Lovin' Spoonful-type folk/rock sound. He continued to branch out before the Liberty contract wound down: His last album for United Artists (which had absorbed Liberty), 1972's Nothin' Like a Sunny Day, was a progressive singer/songwriter album credited to Robert Thomas Velline and featuring a bearded cover photo hardly recognizable as the Bobby Vee of a decade earlier. Though he never had another hit, Vee performed into the 2000s, occasionally reuniting with the surviving Crickets. The live shows helped re-establish him as a credible early rocker rather than an ex-teen idol. A further boost to his reputation came in 2013 when Bob Dylan, who played briefly in his band pre-fame, praised him onstage and covered "Suzie Baby" in St. Paul, with Vee in the audience. Vee announced the previous year that he was suffering from Alzheimer's, and went to work on a final album, The Adobe Sessions. The album was released two years before his death in 2016.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 C'mon, Let's Live a Little (1967) Jesse Crawford
2.
 Play It Cool (1963)
3.
 Just for Fun (1963)
4.
 Swingin' Along (1962) Themselves
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