Robert Thomas Velline was born on April 30th,
1943 in Fargo, North Dakota. He grew up in a musical family - His father
Sidney played the violin and piano, his uncle played saxophone and his two
older brothers, Bill and Sidney Junior. both played guitar. Bobby
played saxophone in his high school band, and during high school saved enough
money from his paper route to buy himself a new Harmony guitar.
brother Bill began to play sessions with Jim Stillman and Bob Korum, and Bobby badly
wanted to join them, but his brother told him he was too young, and the sessions
remained closed to him for some months. When the older boys allowed him to join
them he became aware he had something they lacked and needed: the knowledge of
the complete lyrics of all the songs on the hit parade. After some time Dick
Dunkirk took Stillman's place on bass guitar, and soon the Shadows became one
of the most popular new bands in the area.
On February 3, 1959 a light plane carrying
Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, The Big Bopper (all on their way to a
performance in Moorhead, Minnesota) and 20
year old pilot Roger Peterson crashed in a snow covered
Iowa field, killing everyone on board. The rest of the performers
scheduled to play decided the show should go on, and the promoters asked that
local talent should fill out the show.
Shadows were one of these local talents.
In the following thirty plus years Bobby would go
on to place thirty-eight songs in the Billboard top 100 charts, six gold
singles, fourteen top forty hits and two gold albums.
work followed soon after, with their first engagement being on Valentine's
Day, 1959. The conditions were substandard, but the band made $60.00 which was
excellent pay at the time.
June 1st 1959 the band recorded Susie Baby for Soma Records .By the end of the summer, Susie Baby
had reached number one on all the local stations in the upper mid-west, and
major record companies were calling with interest in signing this new young
singer. Bobby Vee and the Shadows signed with Liberty Records in the autumn of
1959 and the band continued on until 1963, when Bill deciding the road was not
to his liking, left to pursue interests closer to home.
happened for the band until late 1960, and Liberty Records began to loose
faith in the band. But then a radio station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania began
playing the B-side of what might have been Bobby's last single. The song was
"Devil or Angel." By the end of 1960 it peaked at
number 6 in the Billboard charts, as well as reaching the top 20 on the R
& B charts. Liberty Records exercised its option and signed Bobby to a five
By 1963 Bobby Vee had collected seven top ten hits in England as well as a
number 2 album called Bobby Vee Meets the Crickets.
In 1963 he shared the charts for forty weeks side-by-side with the Beatles.
His tours took him to Japan, Australia and Europe as well as the United Kingdom.
His thirty plus year recording career has produced over twenty-five albums
including a Gold Album from England for his 1981 Singles Album release.
Back in the U.S., Billboard Magazine called him, "One of the top ten most
consistent chart makers ever."
Bobby Vee has continued his musical career into the 90s. In 1990 EMI/Cema
issued a twenty-five song re-mastered compact disc and cassette as part of the
Legendary Masters series. His 1963 Christmas album was re-released late in the
year. Bobby released a 17 song collectors' edition cassette on his own Rockhouse
Record label to coincide with his 1990 tour of the UK. In 1994 critics and
collectors gave great reviews to his Last Of The Great 'Rhythm' Guitar
Players CD. The annual readers' poll by sixties music magazine The Beat
Goes On voted him: 1991 Best American Act; 1992 Best Live Performer; 1993 Favourite
Male Singer; and in 1994 he was named Runner Up to Paul McCartney in the
category of Most Accomplished Performer.
WHAT DO YOU WANT ~ DEVIL OR ANGEL ~ RUBBER BALL ~
TAKE GOOD CARE OF MY BABY ~ RUN TO HIM ~ THE NIGHT
HAS A THOUSAND EYES ~ COME BACK WHEN YOU GROW UP