2016 has struck again, it appears. Singer Bobby Vee, who had battled Alzheimer’s disease, passed away today at the age of 73. His son confirmed Bobby’s death in a statement today.
Bobby was just starting his recording career in Minnesota in 1959 when fate worked in his favor. The ill-fated Winter Dance Party had just lost three of its stars – Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper – and needed to add acts as it continued north. Vee was a last-minute addition to the tour, and his performances gained enough attention for him to switch from the small Soma Records label to Liberty, where he had his biggest hits, among them “Take Good Care of My Baby,” “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes,” and
“Come Back When You Grow Up.”
Bobby hit the charts some 38 times and was a mainstay on the Oldies concert circuit. We had Bobby for a show when I was at WODJ in Grand Rapids in the late 1990s. The show was at an outdoor venue and the weather was terrible, keeping the attendance low – like double-digits low. Bobby, ever the professional, came out and did the show, and then chatted with each and every member of the audience who wanted to afterwards. He was charming and gracious. Given some of the Oldies stars I met who think they’re still at the top of their touring game, and that it’s still 1966 somewhere, Bobby would have had reason not to put on the show. But he did, and was appreciated for it.
In the original pile of 45s that I inherited from my parents was this double-sided hit. The A-side, “Run to Him,” made #2 and gained a ton of airplay. I was more drawn to the footsteps on the B-side, though, and spun this one a lot more in the bedroom studio of my imaginary radio station.
You can hear “Walkin’ With My Angel” by clicking here.