We have lost one of the most beautiful people in the whole, wide world.
Bobby Vee was my first and most enduring hero.
He was also a friend.
In 1960, I was attending ninth grade at his former school – Agazzi Junior High – in Fargo, North Dakota. His first international hit – Rubber Ball – was bouncing around inside my head and wouldn’t leave. I had my first serious crush on this pink lady I met at a hospital where I had been treated for a minor injury. She didn’t even know I existed, so the lyrics were perfect.
That was not the only Bobby Vee song I learned to love. Robert Thomas Velline was just a couple of years ahead of me in the Fargo school system, and I first saw him perform in the school gym. As he started making waves, I would walk into this very small record store on a regular basis to see his gold records on display. Today, I can sing along with more Bobby Vee songs than any other artist, including Elvis and the Beatles. My mother even called me “Bobby Vee” as an affectionate nickname.
I’ve gone to at least three of his concerts, the most recent was August 3, 2002. He is so gracious, staying long after the performances to sign autographs and talk with fans. At one concert, he signed his greatest hits album for me. At another, a program. He seems always happy to talk to fans. He is an excellent roll model, and I respect him highly as a person.
No other performer has influenced me as much as Bobby Vee. I respect his decency, his integrity, and the fact his backup band is composed of his own sons, which makes me extremely proud for him.
Hopefully, I will hang on to his most recent autograph – the other two were given away during fits of despair. In August 2002, he wrote to me: “It was ‘Bernies Record Shop’ and the gal was Clela Mcfarland. When things started getting hot for me she took over our fan club chores and did a terrific job for several years. We still exchange cards and occasional phone calls. I don’t get to Fargo much anymore, my parents and both of my brothers have passed away. Still lot’s of good memories from my youthful years. I remember sitting on the open window ledge in Ms Bergers 8th grade class. Just as the bell rang someone pushed me out the window onto the ledge and closed the window again. That was Bergers first impression of me and the rest of the year went downhill from there…Thanks for the postcards…great shots. Also…the kind words…thanks!”