The North Dakota native, real name Robert Velline, lost his battle with Alzheimer's disease on 24 October (16), and on Wednesday (02Nov16), hundreds of friends and family members gathered at St. John's Abbey Church in Collegeville to say a final farewell.

According to The St. Cloud Times, mourners celebrated the Take Care of My Baby hitmaker's life as Father Greg Miller remembered the singer as an "ambassador of joy", while Father Eugene MCGlothlin encouraged attendees to "sing out" in the late star's honour.

"I doubt Bob would love anything more than hearing you all together, singing and enjoying being with each other," he told the congregation.

Vee was only 15 when he shot to fame by filling in for Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper when they all died in a plane crash in February, 1959, on their way to a show at the Moorhead National Guard Armory in Minnesota.

The gig helped turn Vee and his band The Shadows into state darlings.

He retired from performing in 2011 after struggling to remember his lyrics, and went public with his Alzheimer's diagnosis in 2012.