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Pop music hero and teen idol Bobby Vee dies at 73

Bobby Vee, the Fargo-born pop star who counted Bob Dylan among his biggest fans, passed away early Monday morning.
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Pop music legend and former teen idol Bobby Vee has died at the age of 73.

The St. Cloud Times and KSTP are both reporting Vee passed away early Monday morning from complications of Alzheimer's Disease, having spent the last 13 months of his life at The Wellstead & Rogers & Diamondcrest memory care facility in Rogers, Minnesota.

His physician and close friend Dr. Rick Rysavy told the St. Cloud Times his death was "kind of a blessing," adding there was "no reason for him to suffer any longer."

Vee, a native of Fargo, burst onto the scene and into national prominence at the tender age of 15, when he filled at the Winter Dance Party stop in Moorhead in 1959 after stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash en route to Minnesota.

According to the History Theatre in St. Paul, which is currently staging a play about Vee's rise to stardom, he went on to record his first hit single, "Suzie Baby," in Minneapolis and cemented his teen idol status when appearing on American Bandstand with Dick Clark.

He went on to have 38 Top 100 hits between 1959 and 1970, according to his blog – including "Devil or Angel," "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes"and "Take Good Care Of My Baby" – and toured for more than 50 years.

Among his biggest fans was Bob Dylan, who described Vee as "the most beautiful person I've ever been on stage with" during a concert at Midway Stadium in 2o13, which Vee attended.

The Current reported Vee was one of the first musicians to ever hire Dylan to perform while he was still living in Hibbing, with Dylan playing piano in Vee's band when Dylan was going by the name Elston Gunn.

Dylan played "Suzie Baby" to the 14,000-strong crowd as a tribute to Vee.

Illness and musical road trip

Vee's sole blog entry was penned on April 28, 2012, in which he announced he had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for the past year, and told fans about a road trip he took with his family from Minnesota to Tucson, Arizona.

"Along the way we flipped on the tape recorder and created a little something special, something sure to last. We just did what we have always done, only this time there was no stage. There were no spotlights and no audience. We made music every day for a week… just for us. For the joy of making music. For the joy of being together. For all of the reasons I ever picked up a guitar or sang a tune in a Fargo, ND garage back in ’59. I have truly come full circle!"

The St. Cloud Times notes Vee and his family moved back to the Midwest in 1980 from Los Angeles, settling in St. Cloud, where his family's "Rock Around The Clock" fundraiser concerts raised more than $1 million for Cathedral High School.

Most recently he has been living in Avon, Minnesota.

A play of Vee's life, Teen Idol: The Bobby Vee Story, is currently playing at the History Theatre in St. Paul, with two of Vee's, Tommy and Jeff, collaborating on the script.

Tickets to the play, which runs until Oct. 30 at the theater on E. 10th St., cost $37-$52, with discounts for seniors, students and under 30s. You can buy tickets here.

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