In terms of his artistic significance, the early 1960s teen singer Bobby Vee may be a relatively slight and unimportant figure, but his place in music history is assured for reasons that have nothing to do with his modest chart accomplishments and charms as a performer. On this day in 1961, he reached the high point of his recording career when his recording of the Carole King-penned “Take Good Care Of My Baby” topped the U.S. pop charts. But the event that made that accomplishment possible—and assured Bobby Vee his place in history—came two-and-a-half years earlier, when a small plane carrying three young musicians crashed en route to his home town.
For songwriter Don McLean, February 3, 1959, was the Day the Music Died, but for 15-year-old Bobby Velline, it was the tragic day his star was born. The plane that crashed in an Iowa field early that morning was carrying musicians Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson north from Clear Lake, Iowa, to Fargo, North Dakota, for the next show on the Winter Dance Party 1959 tour. It was a show that young Bobby Velline, an avowed rock-and-roller, was planning to attend as a fan until fate intervened.
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