Sixties music starts with a Vee
Bobby Vee, whose fresh voice and well-scrubbed appearance perfectly fit the early '60s music scene, will perform his greatest hits from that era June 18 at Austin's Paramount Theatre.
Vee, who was born Robert Velline on April 30, 1943 in Fargo, N.D., first came to national attention as the substitute for his idol, Buddy Holly. Vee and his brother, Bill, had just formed a combo in Fargo and were looking forward to seeing Holly and others of the 1959 Winter Dance Party tour perform in their town.
But Holly was killed in a place crash on the way to Fargo. "The local radio station broadcast a plea for local talent to entertain at the scheduled dance," Vee remembered a few years later. "Our style was modeled after Buddy's approach and we had been rehearsing with Buddy's hits in mind. We went in and volunteered."
For that reason alone, Vee's name would have been associated with Holly. But Vee, as he said, modeled his singing and playing on Holly, and indeed the results were often remarkable. Several of his best-known songs, including "Rubber Ball," sounded like outtakes from sessions by Holly.
After that Winter Dance Party debut, Vee recorded his first record, "Suzie Baby," another virtual Holly rewrite, and it became a regional hit in Minnesota and the Dakotas, In 1960, though, he had a national Top 10 hit with "Devil or Angel," and that started a string of hit records for Vee: "More Than I Can Say," "Run to Him," "Take Good Care of My Baby" and "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes." His style mixed gentle rockabilly with contemporary pop — the kind of easy-on-the-ears delivery that was popular just before the Beatles arrived.
Even after having hits of his own, Vee continued his association with Holly's name, recording an album with Holly's backing band, the Crickets, as well as a 1963 album "I Remember Buddy Holly."
His final big hit was "Come Back When You Grow Up" in 1967, but Vee's tasteful approach never went out of style. He continued to record well-thought-of records, even though they had little chance of hitting the top of the carts.
Vee's band in recent years has included two of his three sons, Jeff on drums and Tom on bass. His sons also have their own band, the Vees. He has also performed regularly in Branson, Mo., in a show that includes Fabian, Bryan Hyland, the Chiffons and Chris Montez.