Pop music icon Bobby Vee dead at 73 – St. Cloud Times – St. Cloud Times
ROGERSÂ â Pop music legend Bobby VeeÂ â an icon for music fans around the world, and a champion for charitable causes around Central MinnesotaÂ âÂ died early Monday morning of complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 73.
Vee had been in hospice care atÂ The Wellstead of Rogers & Diamondcrest, a memory care facility where the Avon resident lived for the final 13 months of his life.
“Among the sadness, there is relief,” son Tommy Velline said. “I’m relieved that the struggle is over for him, and I’m sad as hell that he’s gone.”
“It was amazing to see his grace around this horrible situation,” said Jeff Velline, the oldest of Bobby and Karen Velline’s four children.
“It’s kind of a blessing,” added Dr. Rick Rysavy, Vee’s primary care physician and close friend. “There was no reason for him to suffer any longer.”
Born Robert Thomas VellineÂ on April 30, 1943, in Fargo, North Dakota,Â Vee burst intoÂ national musical prominence at age 15 after the plane crash that claimed the lives of rock ‘n’ roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. Vee and his band The Shadows filled in at the Winter Dance Party stop in Moorhead, launching his career.
That career subsequently included 38 singles that reached the Billboard Hot 100 between 1959-1970, including “Suzie Baby,” “Devil Or Angel,”Â “Rubber Ball,”Â “Take Good Care of My Baby,” “Run To Him” and “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes.”
“Bobby’s legacy transcends the music,” said Bob Beverage, who wrote the play “Teen Idol: The Bobby Vee Story” in collaboration with Tommy and Jeff Velline. The play is in its final week at St. Paul’s History Theater.
“The other legacyÂ â man, if I heard it once, I heart it 60 times: Bobby was the greatest guy in the world,” Beverage said. “It was part of who he was as a personÂ â as a family man, as a performer, as a friend.”
Vee and his familyÂ â wife Karen, sons Jeff, Tommy and Robby and daughter JennyÂ â moved from Los Angeles to St. Cloud in 1980, and immediately made an impact on the community. The family’s “Rockin’ Round the Clock” fundraiser concerts generated more thanÂ $1 million for extracurricular programs atÂ Cathedral High School.
“He was a kind, gentle-hearted man,” said Cathedral activities director Emmett Keenan. “They worked hard to get where they got. Nobody gave them anything.
“Bobby and Karen never forgot that, and they never changed who they were. That’s such a tremendous tribute.”
Vee was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease on Jan. 7, 2011, at age 67. His last public musical performance was July 3, 2011, at Joetown Rocks in St. Joseph.
Karen Velline died Aug. 3, 2015, of complications from a chronic lung disease. Bobby Vee moved to The Wellstead the following month.
“I think he was ready to go a long time ago,” Tommy Velline said. “After my Mom died, he was still able to communicate a little bit. He flat-out told me, ‘I’m done.’ “
“They’re sort of strolling off into the sunset together,” Jeff Velline added.
Aphasia eventually robbed Vee of his ability to speak, and his general health took a recent downward turn.Â
“I told Jeff that it was time to pull the family together,” said Rysavy, who visited Vee on Saturday.Â “I told them he might have 72 hours.”
Funeral arrangements are pending. A public service will probably be held early next week.
“It’s really sad,” Keenan said. “73 is too young.”
“We knew it was coming,” Tommy Velline said. “But it’s just hard to see him go.”
Contact Times columnist Dave DeLand at 255-8771 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davedeland and on Facebook at Dave DeLand SC Times.