Singing star Bobby Vee

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Early sixties singing star, Bobby Vee, died on October 24, after suffering from alzheimers for the last five years. Born Robert Thomas Velline, in 1943, he rose to fame following the death of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens, in the plane crash on February 3, 1959, during the Winter DanceParty tour.

The next leg of the tour was to be in Moorhead, Minnesota, and the tour organisers put out appeals on local radio, for volunteers to replace the three stars. Fifteen years old, Bobby Vee was accepted, along with some of his Fargo school friends, who chose a name, The Shadows, for the show. It put Bobby Vee in the limelight, and a self-penned song, Suzie Baby, became a big local hit in Minnesota. This brought him to the attention of Liberty Records, and his recording for them, of an old song by The Clovers, Devil or Angel, gave him his first top 100 hit, in the States. He became an international star the following year, with the success of Rubber Ball, and he went on to have 38 hits in the USA charts, as well as 10 UK hit singles, including, Take Good Care of My Baby and The Night Has a Thousand Eyes.

Although his hits dried up in the Sixties, he kept touring on a regular basis, right up to the onset of his illness, and I saw him at Sheffield City Hall, around 2010. I will be playing some of his hits, and lesser-known songs, along with audience requests, when The Hillbilly Cats play their first Friday of the month gig, at the Railway Hotel, Wadsley Bridge, November 4. Come and pay tribute to one of the nice guys of the pop music scene.

Mike Lawton