Bob Dylan paid tribute to Bobby Vee, the ‘60s pop star and a long-time resident of St. Cloud, during his St. Paul concert last Wednesday.
“I used to live here, and then I left,” said Dylan. “I’ve shared the stage with everyone from Mick Jagger to Madonna, but the most beautiful person I’ve ever been on stage with is Bobby Vee. He used to sing a song called ‘Suzie Baby.'”
Seventy-year old Bobby Vee — who last year retired from perfoming and announced he was in early stage of Alzheimer’s–was in attendance.
Dylan wrote fondly about their long friendship in his 2004 memoir “Chronicles.” Here are two excerpts:
“Bobby Vee was from Fargo, North Dakota, raised not too far from me. In the summer of ’59 he had a regional hit record out called “Suzie Baby” on a local label. His band was called The Shadows and I had hitchhiked out there and talked my way into joining his group as a piano player on some of his local gigs, one in the basement of a church I played a few shows with him, but he really didn’t need a piano player and, besides, it was hard finding a piano that was in tune in the halls that he played.
Bobby Vee and me and a lot in common, even though our paths would take such different directions. We had the same musical history and came from the same place at the same point of time.”
A year and a half later the two would meet briefly outside the Brooklyn Paramount Theater where Bobby Vee was appearing with his first hit song “Take Good Care of My Baby.” At that time, Dylan was a New York newcomer playing in Greenwich Village folk clubs.
“Standing there with Bobby, I didn’t want to act selfishly on his time so we said good-bye and I walked down the side of the theater and out through one of the side doors. There were throngs of young girls waiting for him in the cold outside the building. I cut back out through them into the press of cabs and private cars plowing slowly through the icy streets and headed back to the subway station. I wouldn’t see Boby Vee again for another thirty years, and though things would be a lot different, I’d always thought of him as a brother. Every time I’d see his name somewhere, it was like he was in the room.”
You can hear Vee’s recording of “Suzie Baby” here. An audience video of Dylan’s performance of “Suzie” (in surprisingly good voice) was posted on Youtube and is below.