Bobby Vee Pinch Hit
The way Bobby Vee, singer from Fargo, found his path to fame is by now a well-known tale. His journey began on February 3, 1959 as a tragic airplane crash robbed the world of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper, all of whom were scheduled to perform in Moorhead as part of a tour across the Midwest.
Bobby Vee was better known then as Robert Thomas Velline. Just prior to this event, he had joined up with several other locals as a band. At the time, they didn’t even have a name. As officials scrambled to find local talent to replace the three headliners that night, Bobby and his group, quickly named “The Shadows,” were granted the opportunity.
After two or three other acts, they took the stage and played a few numbers. It was quite an opportunity, but didn’t get paid for their time, and when the tour moved on to Sioux City, Bobby Vee and the other Shadows remained behind. But they worked hard, and just a few months later in Minneapolis, they recorded “Suzie Baby,” influenced by Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue.” The song rose in popularity, leading to more work, and more music. By the early sixties, Bobby Vee was a familiar name.
And on this date in 1966, history repeated itself as Bobby Vee filled in for another famous act, British duo Chad and Jeremy, at the Minnesota State Fair. Chad and Jeremy, known for singing “Yesterday’s Gone” and “A Summer Song,” did not meet with tragedy; they were under contract to perform at a dance pavilion and left town early, much to the concern of fair officials.
The Fargo Forum reported, “You don’t replace a well-known group like Chad and Jeremy with local talent. In fact, they are nearly impossible to replace at all on a short notice. But things have been going good for the fair this year. Attendance is up, money is rolling in, and Bobby Vee was vacationing in Detroit Lakes.” With the vacation on hold, he stepped in for a series of performances at the fair.
Bobby Vee won many honors, including seven Gold Records, 38 Top 100 hit songs, and induction into the Roughrider Hall of Fame—North Dakota’s highest honor for one son who really rocked.
Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker