ROGERS — Pop music legend Bobby Vee — an icon for music fans around the world, and a champion for charitable causes around Central Minnesota — died early Monday morning of complications of Alzheimer's disease. He was 73.
Vee had been in hospice care at The Wellstead of Rogers & Diamondcrest, a memory care facility where the Avon resident lived for the final 13 months of his life.
"It's kind of a blessing," said Dr. Rick Rysavy, Vee's primary care physician and close friend. "There was no reason for him to suffer any longer."
Born Robert Thomas Velline April 30, 1943, in Fargo, Vee burst onto national musical prominence at age 15 after the plane crash that claimed the lives of rock 'n' roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. Vee and his band The Shadows filled in at the Winter Dance Party stop in Moorhead, launching his career.
That career subsequently included 38 singles that reached the Billboard Hot 100 between 1959-1970, including "Suzie Baby," "Devil Or Angel," "Rubber Ball," "Take Good Care of My Baby," "Run To Him" and "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes."
Vee and his family — wife Karen, sons Jeff, Tommy and Robby and daughter Jenny — moved from Los Angeles to St. Cloud in 1980, and immediately made an impact on the community. The family's "Rockin' Round the Clock" fundraiser concerts generated more than $1 million for Cathedral High School.
Vee was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease on Jan. 7, 2011, at age 67. His last public musical performance was July 3, 2011, at Joetown Rocks in St. Joseph.
Karen Velline died Aug. 3, 2015, of complications from a chronic lung disease. Bobby Vee moved to The Wellstead the following month, and his health took a recent downward turn.
"I told Jeff that it was time to pull the family together," said Rysavy, who visited Vee on Saturday. "I told them he might have 72 hours."
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Video: Music is therapy as Bobby Vee battles Alzheimer's