ST. JOSEPH - Pop music icon Bobby Vee is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

Vee says he was diagnosed more than a year ago, but chose to remain silent until now in order to reflect and concentrate on his music and family. A statement on Vee's website says the diagnosis, "stunned my family and myself to the core."

Vee rose to fame in 1959 after filling in at concert held at the Moorhead Armory following the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. Vee has seven gold records and 38 Top 100 hits.  Bobby Vee is celebrating his 69th birthday today (Monday).

Vee is a native of the Fargo area, but he's lived for the past several years in St. Joseph.