To Jerry Lee Lewis he was one of the three ‘Bobbys’
who blanded-out Rock ‘n’ Roll. But no love was
ever as single-mindedly pure as Bobby Vee’s.
Are there mitigating circumstances…?
Buddy Holly & The Crickets maybe…?
ANDREW DARLINGTON weighs the evidence…
Jerry Lee Lewis knew who was responsible for the bland wave of pretty-boys taking over the late-1950’s music scene in the wake of the demise of Rock ‘n’ Roll. He blamed what he called ‘the Bobbys’. That is – Bobby Vinton, Bobby Rydell… and Bobby Vee. All sweetly romantic soft-Pop singers with the kind of photogenic looks that gifted them fan-mag celebrity without really trying. And yes, you don’t argue with the ‘Killer’. But as with every generalisation, there’s space for mitigating circumstances.
The decline of that first insurrectionary roar of Rock ‘n’ Roll was due to a number of factors. Payola was one, which destroyed the career of Rock’s greatest propagandist, Alan Freed. Elvis was off answering his country’s call, doing G.I. duty. Little Richard had thrown his bling off Sydney bridge and found god. Chuck Berry was in jail for trafficking underage girls across State lines. Jerry Lee himself was under a virtual media ban following revelations about his bigamous marriage to his thirteen-year-old cousin. And Buddy Holly was dead.
Yet it was Buddy Holly’s death that kick-started Bobby Vee. A connection he followed through his career. When I saw Bobby Vee at the Wakefield ‘Rooftop Gardens’, in 1989, he was fronting the Crickets. He did the obligatory medley of his own hits, but the evening was very much a tribute to Buddy. The admiration was obviously sincere. Bobby himself was self-effacing and humorously not-too serious about his own back-catalogue. I had not gone expecting to like him. I came away with a grudging respect.
According to Phil Hardy and Dave Laing’s ‘The Encyclopedia Of Rock’ (Panther, 1976), Bobby Vee was both the ‘luckiest and prettiest of a generation of American ‘college boy’ soloists’ who occupied the upper reaches of early-sixties chartdom. Born Robert Thomas Velline in Fargo, North Dakota, on 30 April 1943, his entry into fame came when he and elder brother Bill formed a group called the Shadows who, wearing matching sweaters, deputised for Buddy Holly at ‘The Armory’, Moorhead, Minnesota on 3 February 1959 immediately following that fatal plane-crash en route to the ‘Winter Dance Party’ show there. Bright-eyed baby-faced Bobby took vocals only because he knew the lyrics to their limited six-song set. It worked sufficiently well for the group to self-finance and cut four songs for the local Soma label as a result, 1 July 1959. One of them – Bobby’s own song “Suzie Baby”, stood out and was picked up for local radio-play.
Listen now. It’s easy to see how it drew attention, sung with wistful Holleyesque vocal mannerisms, its eerily thin production, sharp guitar lines over ‘Peggy Sue’ pulse, combine to give it a raw echoey edge. So when producer Tommy ‘Snuff’ Garrett heard the disc, he whisked the group away to Liberty Records, where the track was given national release. And the seventeen-year-old ‘Vee’, as he’d been redubbed, was groomed for solo stardom. Although born in Dallas, Garrett had operated as a radio DJ for KDUB in Lubbock where he first encountered and supported Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Later he did production work for formerly hit-less Johnny Burnette, gifting him the million-selling “Dreamin’”. With experience honing his instinct, he sensed the potential of what he’d found.
Many other artists started out using the Holly template. Tommy Roe’s first signature hit – “Sheila”, is a virtual retread of “Peggy Sue”. Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs had a series of American hit singles styled the Holly way. Both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones recorded Buddy Holly songs. Joe Meek used his often-inept artists as vehicles to reflect his own Holly-obsession. While Adam Faith adopted his quirky vocal phrasing by imitating Buddy. And it was with a 1:39-minute US cover of Adam’s “What Do You Want” – a UK no.1 in December 1959, that Garrett launched his new signing, exactly replicating the stinging John Barry pizzicato-string arrangement. Although it failed, his revival of the Clovers “Devil Or Angel” charted – a sweet dual-track ballad counterpointed by cooing doo-wop bass-voice, it reached no.6 and became his first certified million-seller. Retaining the Holly influence by stretch-distorting the lyric with a hic-cup ‘will you ever be my-ey-ey-ey-ine?’ The Vee career was off and running, under Garrett’s masterful supervision.
Bobby Vee’s Wikipedia page devotes a disproportionate amount of space to the story that a young Bob Dylan – under the guise of Elston Gunn, briefly played keyboards in Vee’s touring back-up group. Dylan, no stranger to self-mythologising, confirms that this unlikely liaison happened, in his ‘Chronicles, Volume 1’ (2004), but at the time Dylan was a skinny unknown scuffing for whatever work he could score, while Vee was approaching chart stardom. Dylan recalled to ‘New Musical Express’ how ‘I played piano when I was seventeen. I played piano for this Rock ‘n’ Roll singer. His name is Bobby Vee and he’s a big star now, I guess. That was in Fargo, North Dakota. Then we went all around the Midwest. Went to Wisconsin, Iowa, toured around there and then I left, I was with him for about, uh, every night – just about every night, for about a month or two. And then as soon as I left him he got another recording label and then I saw his picture in big picture-magazines and that kind of stuff not too long after that. So that was sort of a disappointment…’ (2 July 1977).
After four American releases, the inanely catchy “Rubber Ball” took off on both sides of the Atlantic in 1960, the girlie-chanting ‘bouncy-bouncy bouncy-bouncy’ becoming annoyingly inescapable. In the UK it found itself involved in a fiercely-contested chart-battle with a rival cover version by Marty Wilde. Taking advantage of his established popularity amplified by access to local TV, Marty charted first at no.26 (21 January 1961), Bobby effortlessly vaulting him by entering higher at no.13 the following week. Then they were closing to 8 and 9 with Bobby ahead, until Vee hit a high of no.3 – beneath Elvis’ “Are You Lonesome Tonight”, as Marty fell away.
I’d just turned thirteen, and my loyalties were divided. Marty Wilde was a familiar hit-making Rocker, and surely it was the patriotic thing to support the British version? Such things still mattered in 1961. But although Bobby’s was the original, both were highly-disposable play-Pop anyway. Fifties novelty-fluff not only bright and bouncy, but bouncy-bouncy. More bounce to the ounce than a female beach volleyball team! Eventually I decided, as Bobby Vee hadn’t actually written the thing (Elvis-writer Aaron Schroeder, with ‘Anne Orlowski’ (Gene Pitney) were responsible), it was merely two equal interpretations of the same song which should stand or fall on their own merits. And in retrospect, both artists seem mildly amused by their relative success with “Rubber Ball”. In Wakefield Bobby explains in an incredulous anecdote how his version had later been adapted into a TV-ad, exclaiming ‘WHAT?... my BOUNCY BOUNCY!!!’ Marty Wilde, performing in Skegness, was equally dismissive, telling how his version of the song was being used by the troops in Afghanistan – played loud as a weapon to terrify the Taliban!
Over the next three years Vee extolled the pleasure and heartache of chaste polite romance in a series of slick custom-made hits that continued with “More Than I Can Say” – opening ‘whoa-whoa-yea-yea’, and written by Crickets Jerry Allison and Sonny Curtis (who also drums on the session). It earned him high-profile TV-slots on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ as well as the ‘Perry Como Show’, Dick Clark, Dinah Shaw and the ‘Saturday Prom’ shows. But it was the lushly-orchestrated beat-ballad “Take Good Care Of My Baby”, with its part-spoken ‘my tears are falling’ lead-in, which first took him to no.1. In the ‘New Musical Express’ it even nudged Elvis’ “His Latest Flame” aside to take top slot on 2 December 1961.
For the studio recordings, Garrett assembled the cream of LA session-players, guitarists Tommy Allsup, jazzer Barney Kessel and Howard Roberts, plus Earl Palmer (drums), Bob Florence (piano) and Clifford Hils (string bass). And it established all the ingredients his image would be constructed from. It was inoffensive to a frequently cringe-worthy degree, but as a Teen Idol singing star, to be offered pure Pop gold in the form of the latest Jerry Goffin-Carole King composition is a gift too wondrous to miss. Who would pass it up? Who can blame him? And for the writing team who’d already created “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” for the Shirelles, was “Take Good Care Of My Baby” shamelessly contrived to the market-requirements of the time – rhyming ‘and if you should discover, that you don’t really lover-her’? Was it sincerely written as the expression of genuine emotions, or just another made-to-measure product expertly crafted by the Brill Building hit machine? Whatever, its rainbow soda-Pop harmonies have adorned just about every sixties nostalgia CD-compilation ever pressed, from ‘Dreamboats And Petticoats’ to the ‘Heartbeat’ TV spin-off.
Once the winning formula was in place, the team went on feeding him further hits, built around the same template – “How Many Tears”, “Sharing You” and the clip-clop effects of “Walking With My Angel”, plus the self-sacrificing “Run To Him” and “A Forever Kind Of Love” by Goffin with Jerry Keller. Access to such superior material was an essential advantage. Cute melodies wrapped in heart-melting sweeps of plinking strings, sweet ‘n’ true vocals, with golden-voiced girls chiming in their vocal embroidery at strategic points. For “Sharing You” there’s a neat lyrical turn-around in the final verse, bringing it to a close with songwriterly precision. Although he’s sharing her love, in that last verse he pledges she’ll never have to share his. Then – in “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes”, although her lies will be caught out by the voyeuristic watchers of the title, in the closer, so will his own lies also be found out.
The exception to his meek nice-guy persona is John D Loudermilk’s song “Stayin’ In” in which ‘I punched my buddy in the nose after lunch’ because ‘he was sayin’ things that were not true about her.’ Now the Dean’s given him detention, while the buddy is out making time with the girl whose dubious honour he’d tried to defend. Due to its perceived juvenile delinquency, American radio was wary of playing the record. It’s sales suffered accordingly. Lessons were learned.
Comfortably targeting white middle-class teen-females, Bobby Vee 45rpm discs epitomised the artless sterility of early-sixties Pop, as lambasted by Jerry Lee’s derision. He was the perfect parentally-approved dream-boyfriend. He’d never pressure you into inappropriate heavy-petting. He’d respect your emotional responses with an almost impossible sensitivity. Even when you ditch him for the rebel in leathers he’ll tearfully wish you well, and keep on loving you. His was the song on the car radio that accompanied every teenage back-seat snog. No love was ever as single-mindedly pure as Bobby Vee’s. In all the ‘Romance-in-picture’ comic-strip weekly magazines such as ‘Mirabelle’, ‘Valentine’ and ‘Roxy’, he was the dishy cover-star of choice. His dreamy fresh-faced pin-up smile adorned the walls wherever factory-girls worked the assembly lines or packing departments. Guys, in general, were less suckered by it all. Bobby was never cool.
Bobby’s records appeared on the London-American label in Britain, where his considerable popularity was nurtured by frequent touring. In 1962 he was here with the Crickets to promote their album together, ‘Bobby Vee Meets The Crickets’ (1962, Liberty) containing “Peggy Sue” and “Well… All Right” plus the Jerry Allison-Sonny Curtis original “When You’re In Love” alongside authentic-sounding takes on other Rock ‘n’ Roll hits, hinting to doubters that his talents had aspects and dimensions deeper than the fan-mags allowed. Here was something guys could respect too. He followed it with ‘I Remember Buddy Holly’ (1963, Liberty) with “Heartbeat”, “Maybe Baby” and “True Love Ways” which largely succeed in being respectful while adding his own flavour to the mix. Even ‘Melody Maker’ concedes that he ‘had, if anyone did, the firmest claim to Holly’s crown’ (March 1974).
There were also guest spots on BBC radio’s Sunday mid-morning Light Programme ‘Easy Beat’, recorded in front of a live studio audience, and TV shows – such as Saturday evening’s ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ (from the 5 January 1963), and in British films. He cameo’s in two big-screen Pop cash-ins, ‘Play It Cool’ (1962) directed by Michael Winner starring Billy Fury and Helen Shapiro (he sings “At A Time Like This”, from the pen of Norrie Paramor and Norman Newell). And ‘Just For Fun’ (1963) concocted by exploitation-supremo Milton Subotsky. Between songs from Freddy Cannon, Joe Brown, the Crickets and Johnny Tillotson, there’s a glimpse of a plot involving kids getting the vote, but you could easily miss it. Bobby sings yet another massive anthemic hit “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes” on screen. It became another much-anthologised title, but wait… deconstruct beneath its lushly romantic sheen and there’s a creepy lyrical ‘Every Breath You Take’ subtext about ‘if you put me down for another, I’ll know, believe me, I’ll know’. It was to be his last major UK hit, peaking at no.3 in February 1963, significantly just a rung below the Beatles “Please Please Me”.
To the New Wave of Beat Groups headed by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the sweet saccharine blandness of 1960-Pop was very much what they were reacting against. For John Lennon, ‘Run for your life,’ move aside wimp, there’s a new definition of masculinity in town. And Bobby Vee was the old order’s biggest Brylcreem-sculpted bequiffed symbol. Roy Orbison and Gene Pitney retained a precarious popularity, but Bobby Vee, as its most visibly audible face, took the biggest fall. For Lennon, there was no ‘taking good care of my Baby’, instead it was ‘You Can’t Do That’ because ‘catch you with another man, it’s the end, little girl’. But let us not forget that at their first, failed Decca audition of January 1962, the Beatles performed their own, not very convincing version of “Take Good Care Of My Baby”. Sometimes these things come back to haunt even the greatest iconoclasts.
I remember Bobby’s 1964 single “Hickory, Dick And Doc” being played on TV’s Saturday-night ‘Juke Box Jury’ show, it was a minor American hit that peaked at no.52 on the ‘Billboard’ Hot Hundred. In itself it wasn’t a particularly bad record, but in amongst the Beat Boom guitar-storm it seemed vulnerable and totally out-of-time. It got predictably slaughtered by the panel, and overlooked by record-buyers. Overnight he’d gone from Bobby Tomorrow to Bobby Yesterday. He continued to record, even combing his quiff forward into a fringe, but he was fighting a losing battle. The Bubble-Pop “Come Back When You Grow Up” was a solitary triumph when it peaked at no.3 in America in 1967, despite being starved of UK airtime and passing virtually unnoticed here. A tender ‘Lolita’ anticipation of Union Gap’s “Young Girl” about a wide-eyed innocent girl ‘still living in a paper-doll world’, it’s more wistfully considerate than it is suspect. Bobby is still the nice guy. The following year a strange medley of “My Girl/Hey Girl” kept things simmering at no.35.
By 1972 he was living in a luxurious Bel Air estate bankrolled by his teenage vinyl fortune, with his wife and four kids – three boys and a new baby girl. And when he did return to the studio it was under his birth-name, Robert Thomas Velline, to record an LP ‘Nothin’ Like A Sunny Day’ (1972, United Artists) that includes seven of his own compositions, plus a dull new arrangement of “Take Good Care Of My Baby”. Like Neil Sedaka recasting his own “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”, or Ricky Nelson metamorphosing into the Stone Canyon Band, this was intended to cross-over to a more adult-orientated market. Pared back to a country-rock small-group setting with pedal-steel guitar a-slippin’ and a-slidin’. It was critically respected, but commercial response was slight, leaving such future creative ventures open to question. By May 1976 he was bearded, and playing the London ‘Speakeasy’, reliving the hits of his heyday, while inserting new material almost apologetically. Although new records still appeared, there was to be no second chapter to his career. Instead, there was a legacy of hits enough to justify the Golden Oldie tours and Greatest Hits compilations through into the next millennium…
I saw Bobby Vee at the Wakefield ‘Rooftop Gardens’ in 1989. He was fronting the Crickets. I had not gone expecting to like him. I came away with a grudging respect.
THE GREATEST HITS, AND MORE…
September 1959 – “Suzie Baby” c/w “Flyin’ High” (US, Soma 1110, then Liberty 55208) reaches Billboard no.77. ‘B’-side is a group instrumental
April 1960 – “What Do You Want” c/w “My Love Loves Me” (US, Liberty 55234) reaches Billboard no.93
May 1960 – “One Last Kiss” c/w “Laurie” (US, Liberty 55251) reaches Billboard no.112
9 May 1960 – “Devil Or Angel” c/w “Since I Met You Baby” (US, Liberty 55270) reaches Billboard no.6. ‘B’-side, a revival of an Ivory Joe Hunter song, also reaches no.81
1960 – ‘BOBBY VEE SINGS YOUR FAVOURITES’ (Liberty LRP3165) includes “Devil Or Angel”, “Mr Blue”, “Just A Dream”, “Since I Met You Baby”, “It’s All In The Game”, “You Send Me”, “Young Love”, “My Prayer, Sincerely”, “Gone”, “I’m Sorry”, Everyday”
19 January 1961 – “Rubber Ball” c/w “Everyday” (London HLG9255) reaches no.4. US, Liberty 55287, reaches no.6. ‘B’-side is the Buddy Holly song
March 1961 – ‘BOBBY VEE’ (Liberty LRP3181) includes “One Last Kiss”, “Rubber Ball”, “Stayin’ In”, “More Than I Can Say”, “Mr Sandman” and “Poetry In Motion”. Reaches Billboard no.18
13 April 1961 – “More Than I Can Say” c/w “Stayin’ In” (London HLG9316) reaches no.4. In the US “Stayin’ In” Liberty 55296, written by John D Loudermilk, reaches no.33, “More Than I Can Say” reaches no.61
3 August 1961 – “How Many Tears” c/w “Baby Face” (London HLG9389) reaches no.10. US, Liberty 55325, reaches no.63, “Baby Face” reaches no.119
1961 – ‘BOBBY VEE WITH STRINGS AND THINGS’ (Liberty LRP3186) includes “How Many Tears”, “Baby Face” etc
26 October 1961 – “Take Good Care Of My Baby” c/w “Bashful Bob” (London HLG9438) reaches no.3 (Record Retailer), joint no.1 (NME). US, Liberty 55354, reaches no.1
21 December 1961 – “Run To Him” c/w “Walkin’ With My Angel” (London HLG9470) reaches no.6. US, Liberty 55388, reaches no.2, ‘B’-side reaches no.53. In the UK this was first issued on London, then Liberty
8 March 1962 – “Please Don’t Ask About Barbara” c/w “I Can’t Say Goodbye” (Liberty LIB55419) reaches no.29. US, Liberty 55419 reaches no.15, ‘B’-side reaches no.92
24 February 1962 – ‘TAKE GOOD CARE OF MY BABY’ (London HAG2428) includes “Take Good Care Of My Baby”, “Run To Him”, “Walkin’ With My Angel”. Reaches no.7. US Liberty LRP3211
31 March 1962 – ‘HITS OF THE ROCKIN’ FIFTIES’ (London HAG2406) reaches no.20. Issued in the US October 1961 (Liberty LRP3205) with a Rhythm side and a Ballad side. A review says ‘‘Lollipop’ and ‘School Days’ are two musts in this go-go-go Liberty LP’, while his voice is always better-suited to beat-ballads than it is to out-and-out rockers such as ‘Do You Wanna Dance?’. Issued as a two-for-one CD with ‘Strings And Things’ by Beat Goes On BGOCD444
7 June 1962 – “Sharing You” c/w “In My Baby’s Eyes” (Liberty LIB55451) reaches no.10. US, Liberty 55451 reaches no.15
15 September 1962 – “Punish Her” c/w “Someday (When I’m Gone From You)” (US, Liberty 55479) reaches Billboard no.20, ‘B’-side reaches no.99. Not issued as a single in the UK
27 September 1962 – “A Forever Kind Of Love” c/w “Remember Me, Huh?” (Liberty LIB10046) reaches no.13. Recorded in the UK with Norrie Paramor, with the Johnny Mann singers on the ‘B’-side
27 October 1962 – ‘BOBBY VEE MEETS THE CRICKETS’ (Liberty LBY1086) reaches no.2. US, Liberty LRP3228. Includes “Peggy Sue”, “Bo Diddley”, “Someday (When I’m Gone From You)”, “Well… All Right”, “I Gotta Know”, “Lookin’ For Love”, “Sweet Little Sixteen”, “When You’re In Love”, “Lucille”, “The Girl Of My Best Friend”, “Little Queenie”, “The Girl Can’t Help It”
12 January 1963 – ‘A BOBBY VEE RECORDING SESSION’ (Liberty LBY1084) reaches no.10, US July 1962 (Liberty LRP3232) includes “Please Don’t Ask About Barbara”, “I Can’t Say Goodbye”, “Sharing You” etc
December 1962 – ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM BOBBY VEE’ (US, Liberty3267)
7 February 1963 – “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes” c/w “Anonymous Phone Call” (Liberty LIB10069) reaches no.3. US, Liberty 55521 reaches no.3
4 April 1963 – “Charms” c/w “Bobby Tomorrow” (US, Liberty 55530) reaches Billboard no.13
20 April 1963 – ‘BOBBY VEE’s GOLDEN GREATS’ (Liberty LBY1112) reaches no.10. US, November 1962 (Liberty LRP3245) includes “Suzie Baby”, “Punish Her” etc
20 June 1963 – “Bobby Tomorrow” c/w “Charms” (UK, Liberty LIB55530) reaches no.21
June 1963 – ‘BOBBY VEE MEETS THE VENTURES’ (US, Liberty 3289) includes “Wild Night”, “What Else Is New”, “Walk Right Back”, “This Is Where Friendship Ends”, “Pretty Girls Everywhere”, “Linda Lu”, “If I’m Right Or Wrong”, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter”, “Honeycomb”, “Goodnight Irene”, “Caravan”, “Candy Man”
20 July 1963 – “Be True To Yourself” c/w “A Letter From Betty” (US, Liberty 55581) reaches Billboard no.34
1963 – ‘I REMEMBER BUDDY HOLLY’ (US, Liberty LRP3336) includes “That’ll Be The Day”, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”, “Peggy Sue”, “True Love Ways”, “It’s So Easy”, “Heartbeat”, “Oh Boy”, “Raining In My Heart”, “Think It Over”, “Maybe Baby”, “Early In The Morning”, “Buddy’s Song”. Reissued on Sunset budget price label as ‘A Tribute To Buddy Holly’ in May 1978. Then as expanded-CD EMI7960572 with ten previously unissued tracks, including material cut at Norman Petty’s Clovis studio, plus a late version of “Well… All Right”, Vee’s final Liberty recording. Informative liner notes by Bob Celi
5 October 1963 – ‘THE NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES’ (Liberty LIB1139), includes “Go Away Little Girl”, “It Might As Well Rain Until September”, “If She Were My Girl” and “It Couldn’t Happen To A Nicer Guy”. Reaches no.15. US, April 1963 Liberty LRP3285
December 1963 – “Yesterday And You (Armen’s Theme)” c/w “Never Love A Robin” (US, Liberty 55636) reaches Billboard no.55
January 1964 – “Stranger In Your Arms” c/w “1963” (US, Liberty 55654) reaches Billboard no.83
February 1964 – “I’ll Make You Mine” c/w “She’s Sorry” (US, Liberty 55670) reaches Billboard no.52
June 1964 – ‘BOBBY VEE SINGS THE NEW SOUND FROM ENGLAND’ (US, Liberty LRP3352) includes “I’ll Make You Mine”, “Don’t You Believe Them”, “She Loves You”, “I’ll String Along With You”, “Ginger”, “Any Other Girl”, “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man”, “Suspicion”, “From Me To You”, “You Can’t Lie To A Liar”, “Take A Walk Johnny”. Also the Mersey-style “She’s Sorry”, which he promotes in the UK when it’s issued as a single follow-up to the failed “Hickory Dick And Doc”
May 1964 – “Hickory, Dick And Doc” c/w “I Wish You Were Mine Again” (US, Liberty 55700) reaches Billboard no.63
September 1964 – “Where Is She” c/w “How To Make A Farewell” (US, Liberty 55726) reaches Billboard no.120
December 1965 – “Every Little Bit Hurts” c/w “Pretend You Don’t See Her” (US, Liberty 55751) reaches Billboard no.84
February1965 – “Cross My Heart” c/w “This Is The End” (US, Liberty 55761) reaches Billboard no.99. His final single with Snuff Garrett
May 1965 – “Keep On Trying” c/w “You Won’t Forget Me” (US, Liberty 55790) reaches Billboard no.85. Produced in the UK by George Martin
September 1965 – “Run Like The Devil” c/w “Take A Look Around Me” (US, Liberty 55828) reaches Billboard no.124
November 1965 – “The Story Of My Life” c/w “High Coin” (US, Liberty 55843)
1965 – ‘LIVE! ON TOUR’ (US, Liberty LRP3393) includes a medley of “Take Good Care Of My Baby” and “Run To Him”, plus “Sea Cruise”, “Things”, “It’ll Be Me” and “Every Day I Have To Cry”
February 1966 – “A Girl I Used To Know” c/w “Gone” (US, Liberty 55854) reaches Billboard no.133
July 1966 – “Look At Me Girl” c/w “Save A Love” (US, Liberty 55877) reaches Billboard no.52. Billed as Bobby Vee and The Strangers
July 1966 – ‘LOOK AT ME GIRL’ (Liberty LRP3480, UK LBY1341) ‘NME’ says ‘young veteran Bobby Vee has got himself an American group, the Strangers, which sounds like many British groups do, and used to, sound. Although he gets plenty of vocal support, Bobby proves he’s still a very good soloist, as in such tracks as ‘Sunny’ which builds up well, ‘Sweet Pea’, and the beaty ‘Lil Red Riding Hood’, also includes “Turn-Down Day”, “Summer In The City”, “That’s All In The Past”, plus both sides of the May single “Like You’ve Never Known Before” c/w “Growing Pains” (Liberty 10272) which ‘NME’ says ‘all right – in fact his best in a while. But it’s not too clear-cut and lacks real punch. Sorry, Bob!’
November 1966 – “Here Today” c/w “Before You Go” (US, Liberty 55921) US only single of Brian Wilson’s ‘Pet Sounds’ track
12 August 1967 – “Come Back When You Grow Up” c/w “That’s All In The Past” (later pressings ‘B’-side “Swahili Serenade”) Bobby Vee with the Strangers (US, Liberty55964) reaches Billboard no.3. Produced by Dallas Smith
October 1967 – ‘COME BACK WHEN YOU GROW UP’ (US, Liberty LRP3534) with Robert Velline originals “You’re A Big Girl Now” and “I May Be Back”, plus “A Rose Grew In The Ashes” and “You Can Count On Me
16 December 1967 – “Beautiful People” c/w “I May Be Gone” Bobby Vee with the Strangers (US, Liberty 56009) reaches Billboard no.37. A cover of a song by Kenny O’Dell, ‘NME’ says ‘almost vintage Vee – could click, a bit square maybe, but in with definite chances of a chart return for the nice-guy’
February 1968 – “Maybe Just Today” c/w “You’re A Big Girl Now” (US, Liberty 56014) reaches Billboard no.46
April 1968 – ‘JUST TODAY’ (US, Liberty LRP3554) includes “Beautiful People”, “Maybe Just Today”, “My Girl/Hey Girl” etc
18 May 1968 – “My Girl/Hey Girl” (Medley)” c/w “Just Keep It Up (And See What Happens)” (US, Liberty 56033) reaches Billboard no.35. A fusion of Smokey Robinson with Goffin-King
August 1968 – “Do What You Gotta Do” c/w “Thank You” (US, Liberty 56057) reaches Billboard no.83. Revival of Four Tops hit
December 1968 – “(I’m Into Lookin’ For) Someone To Love Me” c/w “Thank You” (US, Liberty 56080) reaches Billboard no.98
August 1969 – “Let’s Call It A Day Girl” c/w “I’m Gonna Make It Up To You” (US, Liberty 56124) reaches Billboard no.92 Recorded in the UK
1969 – ‘GATES, GRILLS AND RAILINGS’ (US, Liberty LST7612) includes “(I’m Into Lookin’ For) Someone To Love Me” etc. Reissued as a two-for-one CD with ‘Nothin’ Like A Sunny Day’ as BGOCD707
February 1970 – “In And Out Of Love” c/w “Electric Trains And You” (US, Liberty 56149) reaches Billboard no.111
June 1970 – “Woman In My Life” c/w “Obligations’ (Liberty LBF 15370), written by Mike D’Abo with Tony Macaulay, arranged by Al Capps and produced by Snuff Garrett. ‘NME’ says ‘there’s a strong hookline, pretty harmonies throughout, and a pleasant gentle feel’
November 1970 – “Sweet Sweetheart” c/w “Rock And Roll Music And You” (US, Liberty 56208) reaches Billboard no.88. Liberty Records becomes United Artists
1972 – ‘NOTHIN’ LIKE A SUNNY DAY’ as by Robert Thomas Velline (US, United Artists UAS5656) includes “Every Opportunity”, “Captain On The Line”, “Halfway Down The Road”, “Hayes”, “My God And I” (written by John Buck Wilkin), “Going Nowhere”, “Home” (co-written with John Durill), “Here She Comes Again”, “It’s All The Same” plus “Take Good Care Of My Baby (New Version)”
1973 – ‘THE VERY BEST OF BOBBY VEE’ (UK, Sunset SLS50271) Budget label twelve-track compilation
1979 – “Tremble On” c/w “Always Be Each Other’s Best Friend” US, Cognito C010)
19 April 1980 – ‘THE BOBBY VEE SINGLES ALBUM’ (United Artists UAG30253) reaches no.5
April 1991 – ‘BOBBY VEE: THE EP COLLECTION’ (See For Miles SEECD297), with “Bo Diddley”, “Peggy Sue” and “Do You Wanna Dance”, John Bauldie reviews it for ‘Q’ ‘Bobby, alas, was never much of a rocker, but his balladry was always as immaculate as his Brylcreemed quiff’
2008 – ‘THE VERY BEST OF BOBBY VEE’ (EMI, CD) twenty-seven tracks