Pop idol Bobby Vee, the boyish, grinning singer whose career began because of the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, has died at 73. Vee, who once had a young Bob Dylan in his band and whose hits included "Take Good Care of My Baby," died Monday of Alzheimer's disease. Born Robert Velline in Fargo, North Dakota, Vee was only 15 when he took the stage in Moorhead, Minnesota, after the Feb. 3, 1959, plane crash in Iowa that killed Holly, Ritchie Valens, and JP "The Big Bopper" Richardson. The call went out for local acts to replace Holly at his scheduled show at the local armory, and Vee and his 2-week-old band volunteered. Vee called his debut a milestone in his life and the "start of a wonderful career," per the AP. Within months, he and the Shadows recorded Vee's "Suzie Baby" for Soma Records.
It was a regional hit, and Vee soon signed with Liberty Records. He went on to record 38 Top 100 hits from 1959 to 1970, hitting the top of the charts in 1961 with "Take Care Good of My Baby" and reaching No. 2 with the follow-up, "Run to Him." Other Vee hits include "Rubber Ball," ''The Night Has A Thousand Eyes," ''Devil or Angel," ''Come Back When You Grow Up," ''Please Don't Ask About Barbara," and "Punish Her." As for Dylan, he grew up in Hibbing, Minnesota, and briefly played with Vee's band. Although their time playing together was short, Dylan had a lasting effect on Vee's career: It was Dylan—then going by the name Elston Gunn when he played piano at a couple of the Shadows' gigs—who suggested Vee change his last name from Velline to Vee. (Dylan, of course, is now a somewhat indifferent Nobel laureate.)