Pop singer Bobby Vee, best known for his work in the 1960s, has died at the age of 73, the Associated Press reports. He was suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s disease, and had announced in 2012 that he had been diagnosed the year prior. The wholesome-voiced Vee was behind songs like “Take Good Care Of My Baby,” a Carole King and Gerry Goffin tune that ended up a number one hit. He was also known for “Rubber Ball,” “Devil Or Angel,” and “Run To Him.”
Vee’s career kicked off in the wake of a tragedy: In 1959 he and his recently-formed band volunteered to perform in Fargo, North Dakota at the concert where Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. Richardson were supposed to play before they died in a plane crash. Vee’s group didn’t have a name, and he came up with the impromptu moniker, The Shadows. “My brother Bill discovered he had forgotten his guitar strap, so he had to borrow one from Dion of Dion and the Belmonts, who also were on the bill,” Vee told Knight-Ridder Newspapers in 1985. “And I especially remember my own sorrow, because I was then, and still am, a big Buddy Holly fan.” A short while later, he recorded “Suzie Baby” with a local Minneapolis label, and from that Liberty Records got on board with his career.
As the AP notes, Vee’s career trajectory was also wrapped up in that of Bob Dylan’s. Dylan, this year’s Nobel Prize winner, played in Vee’s band, and suggested the surname “Vee” instead of his original Velline. During a 2013 concert Dylan called Vee the “most beautiful person I’ve ever been on the stage with,” the Star Tribune reported. Vee was present that night, and Dylan played “Suzie Baby” in tribute. Vee played his final concert in 2011, according to the AP, but his last album, The Adobe Sessions, was released in 2014.