Video of Bobby singing "Take Good Care of My Baby" at end of this post)
Early in Vee's career, a musician named Elston Gunnn briefly toured with the band. "Gunnn," whose birth name was Robert Allen Zimmerman, later went on to fame as Bob Dylan.
In Dylan's autobiography, "Chronicles, Volume One," he makes special mention of Bobby Vee and shares significant and complimentary details about their friendship, both professional and personal.
When Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper were killed in the airplane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa in February 1959, Velline, then aged 15, and a hastily-assembled band of Fargo, North Dakota, schoolboys calling themselves The Shadows, volunteered to fill in for Holly and his band at the Moorhead engagement, where the three deceased singers were headed when they died. This performance led to Vee's career as a singer. Despite the circumstances of his debut, Vee went on to become a star, and regularly performs at the Winter Dance Party memorial concerts in Clear Lake to this day.
Bobby's first single was "Suzie Baby," an original song by Vee that mimicked Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue." His follow-up single, a cover of Adam Faith's UK number 1 "What Do You Want?," charted in the lower reaches of Billboard in early 1960. His fourth release, a revival of The Clovers' doo-wop ballad "Devil or Angel," was his first real chart success, and his next single, "Rubber Ball," was the record that made him a musical star.
Vee's 1961 summer release "Take Good Care of My Baby" went to No.1 on the Billboard U.S. listings and number 3 in the UK Singles Chart. Vee went on to record a string of international hits in the 1960s, including "Devil or Angel," the aforementioned "Rubber Ball," "More Than I Can Say," "Run To Him," "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" and "Come Back When You Grow Up."
Vee was also a pioneer in the music video genre, appearing in several musical motion pictures as well as in the Scopitone series of early film-and-music jukebox recordings.
In 1963, Bobby Vee released a tribute album on Liberty Records called "I Remember Buddy Holly." In the sleeve notes accompanying the album, Vee recalled Holly's influence on him and the events surrounding the tragic death of Holly: "... Buddy was scheduled to appear at a dance in my home town of Fargo, North Dakota. It was going to be a big event for the whole town, but even more so for me. I was anxiously looking forward to seeing Buddy in action.'
Vee continued, 'The day he was to arrive disaster struck, taking Buddy's life, along with the lives of two other fine singers, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper. The shocking news spread through Fargo very quickly. The local radio station broadcast a plea for local talent to entertain at the scheduled dance. About a week before this, I had just organized a vocal and instrumental group of five guys. Our style was modelled after Buddy's approach and we had been rehearsing with Buddy's hits in mind. When we heard the radio plea for talent, we went in and volunteered. We hadn't even named the group up to that time, so we gave ourselves a name on the spot, calling ourselves "The Shadows." We appeared at the dance and were grateful to be enthusiastically accepted. Soon afterwards, I made my first record. It was called "Suzie Baby" and I was pretty lucky with it; it was a fair-sized hit.'
Vee concluded, 'For some time now, I have wanted to make an album in tribute to Buddy, but I wasn't sure it was the proper thing to do. However, during the past year, I have received many requests to do such an album. ... I have made many records, but I have never forgotten Buddy Holly and his influence on my singing style and my career.'
Bobby Vee is still performing and touring internationally as of 2008, along with his backup band, The Vees, which includes his two elder sons, Jeff and Tommy Vee. His youngest son, Robby Vee, is also a recording and performing artist. EMI/UK released 'The Very Best of Bobby Vee' on May 12, 2008.
Bobby Vee is a recipient of the state of North Dakota's Roughrider Award and his contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 2009 Bobby Vee was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.