Rock ‘n’ roll legend and St. Joseph, Minnesota, resident Bobby Vee is celebrating the release of one last album on the 55th anniversary of one of the most tragic events in music history, The Associated Press reports.
The-70-year-old Vee, who is battling Alzheimer’s disease, is releasing “The Adobe Sessions” Monday, 55 years after the event known as “The Day the Music Died” – where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson died in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa. (Don McLean famously coined the event “The Day the Music Died” and he chronicled it in his iconic single “American Pie”).
Feb. 3, 1959, was also the day that the 15-year-old Vee, born Robert Velline from Fargo, North Dakota, was asked to play in Holly’s place at the Moorhead, Minnesota, National Guard Armory with his band The Shadows.
The gig was a launching pad to Vee’s illustrious career, where he recorded 38 top 100 singles including “Take Good Care of My Baby,” “Rubber Ball” and “Come Back When You Grow Up.” Seven of the songs went on to attain gold record status.
According to the AP, Vee kept recording into the 2000s, but felt something strange while touring in England a few years ago which led to his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. He retired from doing public performances in 2011 and announced his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in April 2012.
“The Adobe Sessions” is an 18-track album that features songs he used to sing on family campouts. Recorded primarily in Tuscon, Arizona, the album includes such classics as “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “Walls” by Gordon Lightfoot and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me” – a significant tune because Vee gave Dylan his start in his band in Fargo. Dylan also reportedly suggested to Velline that he change his professional name to Vee.
Dylan paid tribune to his friend at his St. Paul concert in July with a cover of Vee’s hit “Suzie Baby.”
Vee told WCCO.com that doing the album “was really like therapy” for he and his family.
“If they feel a bit like campfire songs, done one more time, for us and for the ages, I think that’s what we were after,” Vee said. “It’s our family’s time capsule record.”
The AP says Vee’s three sons contributed to the album – Jeff on drums, Tommy on bass and Robby on guitar — and his daughter, Jennifer, wrote some of the lyrics to some new, original tracks.
Vee and his wife, Karen, have been married for 50 years.