Roger Green (remember him? I do) dropped a Bobby Vee reference into a recent post, including three of Bobby’s biggest hits.
Speaking of which, the late Tony Peluso, who played that amazing guitar solo on the Carpenters’ “Goodbye to Love,” also played narrator on “Yesterday Once More,” and suddenly I hear his perfect Top 40 voice over the last notes of “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes”: “One of Bobby Vee’s biggest hits!” True; Vee had one Number One, one Number Two and two Number Threes, and “Eyes” was a Number Three.
The other Number Three was “Come Back When You Grow Up,” listed as by “Bobby Vee and the Strangers.” “Come Back” was written by Nashville songwriter (and later label executive) Martha Sharp, who had written Sandy Posey’s first two charters, “Born a Woman” and “Single Girl.” (For a while, rumors persisted that Sharp really was Sandy Posey. She wasn’t.) “Come Back” was first recorded earlier a few months earlier by Shadden and the King Lears, and, yes, “Shadden” was Shadden’s real first name.
Over the years, Vee proved to be an astute selector of material, whether or not it would be a big hit for him. “Yesterday and You” made it to #55 in late 1963; the song, he got from labelmate Ross Bagdasarian, who had recorded it in his pre-David Seville days. (Yes, that David Seville.) As “Armen’s Theme” — Armen was Mrs Bagdasarian — Seville’s instrumental made #42 in 1956.
In the summer of 1966, Vee and the Strangers covered an indie-label song by Texas band The Playboys of Edinburg. “Look at Me Girl” wasn’t a big hit for Vee or for the Playboys, who immediately got picked up by a major label — Columbia, arguably the major-est — but the Strangers rather easily picked up on the Playboys’ modified norteño beat.
One more? In 1961, Vee put out a semi-successful cover of the Crickets’ “More Than I Can Say”:
It would have charted higher than #61, I think, had it not been relegated to a B-side. Nearly two decades later, British producer Alan Tarney remembered it, and suggested it to client Leo Sayer, who took it to #2 in both the UK and the States:
I think Tarney’s instructions included “Sound as much as you can like Bobby Vee.”