Editorial: Area loses more than a musical legend to death

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The world lost a musical legend Monday when Bobby Vee died at age 73. Central Minnesota, though, lost much more.

Sure, from the early 1960s into the 1970s, Vee was a pop music star. But it was the years and decades after his musical career peaked that St. Joseph and all of Central Minnesota truly saw how wonderful he was. Vee embodied what it mean to be not just a wholesome heart throb as a teen, but a family and community-minded man in small-town USA.

After all, even with his stardom, he chose to go from bright lights and big stages into the middle (OK, middle-north) of the Midwest, where he and his wife, Karen, raised three sons and a daughter, all the while continuing his musical career and showing through the music of his sons that such talents might be genetic.

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More recently, Vee faced a battle increasingly common among families. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and, in 2012, announced he would step away from the music business. His family the past few months took the brave step of sharing this horrific battle with the public in hopes of raising awareness about this brutal disease and how to cope with it.

Those efforts, like so many other community-minded acts from Vee and his family over the years, are much appreciated.

Ultimately, though, appreciation for Vee rests forever with the music he created.

As media from the St. Cloud Times to the New York Times have noted, Vee got his start at age 15 when he stepped in to perform in place of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper all of whom died in a 1959 plane crash. From there, he became part of a musical era featuring the likes of Frankie Avalon, Carole King and even Bob Dylan.

A half century later, Vee had built a musical legacy topped with his 1961 No. 1 single “Take Good Care of My Baby,” plus 37 other singles that registered on Billboard’s Hot 100.  All of that eventually earned him a spot in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

Of course, many Central Minnesotans, especially younger generations, probably know him better as just that guy from St. Joseph who loves to make music, especially with his sons.

Indeed, his voice will be missed, but his music and community connections will always resonate in this area.

—St. Cloud Times, Oct. 27

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