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Don McLean

Famed for -- and ultimately defined by -- his perennial "American Pie," singer/songwriter Don McLean was born October 2, 1945, in New Rochelle, New York. After getting his start in the folk clubs of New York City during the mid-'60s, McLean struggled for a number of years, building a small following through his work with Pete Seeger on the Clearwater, a sloop that sailed up and down the eastern seaboard to promote environmental causes.

Still, McLean was primarily singing in elementary schools and the like when, in 1970, he wrote a musical tribute to painter Vincent Van Gogh; the project was roundly rejected by a number of labels, although MediaArts did offer him a contract to record a number of his other songs under the title Tapestry. The album fared poorly, but Perry Como earned a hit with a cover of the track "And I Love You So," prompting United Artists to pick up McLean's contract. He returned in 1971 with American Pie; the title track, an elegiac eight-and-a-half-minute folk-pop epic inspired by the tragic death of Buddy Holly, became a number one hit, and the LP soon reached the top of the charts as well.

The follow-up, "Vincent," was also a smash, and McLean even became the subject of the Roberta Flack hit "Killing Me Softly with His Song"; however, to his credit -- and to his label's horror -- the singer refused to let the success of "American Pie" straitjacket his career. Subsequent records like 1972's self-titled effort and 1974's Playin' Favorites deliberately avoided any attempts to re-create the "American Pie" flavor; not surprisingly, his sales plummeted, and the latter release even failed to chart. After 1974's Homeless Brother and 1976's Solo, United Artists dropped McLean from his contract; he resurfaced on Arista the next year with Prime Time, but when it, too, fared poorly, he spent the next several years without a label.

McLean enjoyed a renaissance of sorts with 1980's Chain Lightning; his first Top 30 LP in close to a decade, it spawned a Top Ten smash with its cover of Roy Orbison's classic "Crying," and his originals "Castles in the Air" and "Since I Don't Have You" both also reached the Top 40. However, 1981's Believers failed to sustain the comeback, and after 1983's Dominion, he was again left without benefit of label support. McLean spent the remainder of his career primarily on the road, grudgingly restoring "American Pie" to his set list and drawing inspiration from the country market; in addition to a number of live sets and re-recordings of old favorites, he also returned to the studio for projects like 1990's For the Memories (a collection of classic pop, country, and jazz covers) and 1995's River of Love (an LP of original material). ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

It's good but holy s**t does it get a lot of play
American pie is do over played it's annoying
And I love you so
Probably for
Me "miss America an pie" it has much meaning that of never understood the. I was much younger.
his recognition is in your heart as is mine. Classic you can never forget.
I had the absolute pleasure of seeing him live at Siamsa Cus Li Cork Ireland in 1981-2 what a great artist that did not get the recognition he deserves!
plexico36
Why is music not made like this any more?
misagroves
His best is his tribute to Vincent Van Gogh
misagroves
O my word, how did great music like this turn into the music of today? How?
Your music takes me back to August '73, SUNY Oswego. Great concert on the campus lawn. Seems like only yesterday...
Love the 70's era!!!
Always liked Castles in the Air better--made me want to move to Colorado before I ever heard of John Denver.
American pie is the best
edmoeduardo
Love it
rdcrum2161
Caught Don on the road in Cleveland, Ohio June 11, 2014. He still has it, my God. Everyone in audience had a connection to him and hios music. Feallow nearby kept yelling Korea, 1984. Thanks, Don.
rdcrum2161
Caught Don's show in Cleveland, June 11, 2014 at Masonic Hall. Don still has it, my God! Everyone in audience had a connection. Fellow neary kept yelling Korea, 1984. Loved his show. Thanks, Don.
Went to his Chicago Park West Concert (1981)
Had a gas it was a great night.
kelly566
Closing song at Maloneys in Margate, NJ! Great tune even at 4 AM!
kelly566
Closing song at Meloneys in Margate! Great tune even at 4 AM!
loreng59
Met him one time at a tiny concert and he was a gentleman and took 5 minutes just to talk to me about why he wrote some of songs. Never had an artist take that kind of time with a member of the audience.

A true gentleman that I shall remember for the rest of my life - thank you
milosdad
NJE222, I think you were right the first time. This song came out in 1971, not exactly the meat of 70's yet, and it better reflects the 60's than the 70's.
I can do this on piano!!
This is the first album I ever bought, wore it out, bought another one, started learning guitar and writing songs. Thanks Mr. McLean!
This is an awesome song.
my oh my this here Anakin guy, Maybe Vader some day later but now he's just small fry. Oh soon he's gonna be a Jedi.
me2329
I hate this song.
even though its the 70's
Ridiculously good, and THE All-American song for the 60s
best song ever
zundia1, American pie was about the death of buddy holly on feb 3rd 1959 that's why don says February made me shiver with every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep, I couldn't take one more step he was talking about the month he died. (and incase you don't know buddy holly died in a plane crash at the age of 22) and yes don did say this himself.

haha mine to long time ago though
My parents use to listen to this lot when I was a kid
niralimurthy
Awesome:))
I grew up with a stepfather that was born in the 50s and blasted Simon and Garfunkel and the like for several hours a day and even during a trip out east to visit his family. At the time I hated it because i was just getting into metal. It sort of grew on me after I moved out. Always love hearing music that actually has some substance and meaning rather than some of the modern day pop songs.
This song is it. I live in the past in the 70s the best decade for music ever.
He was here in Meridian, Mississippi just a couple months ago performing.
By the music he means his penis
epicpartynin j a know one knows what the lyrics Mean! Don McLean never explained the lyrics and people have been arguing over it for 40 years try typing american pie lyrics meaning into google and u get dozens of sites
arthurdmd
What is his current status/situa t i o n ?
I love Don McLean; what happened to him? He was such a great talent who had so much to offer
When this song came out and they played it to death, I hated it..now I really appreciate it and love it.
The story behind the song is so sad
One of the all time favorites
I am a female guitarist and was named after a Ritchie Valens song. I am and always have been so thankful to anyone who can share a beautiful thought, and turn it into a song. I hope in my life, I can effect people the way he's effected me. Thank you Don! Pete's my hero and you are right next to him in my heart, Many many thanks. You're all why I still play and write. Love you!
2Bdancingint h e r a i n . . . y e s , I know how lonely nights can be...
It's really amazing how he could take an awful event and try and help people recover from their shock and use it's tragedy to influence one hell of an amazing song.
Listen I'm 15 and I'm listening to the best song ever and I feel good to listening unlike the s**t today were it seems they are yearling at your you so thank you buddy and McLean and the beatles
awesome best song ever written !
A reporter once asked McClean what American Pie meant to him - his reply? I It means I don't ever have to work again if I don't want to..
carolinaa122 4
Reminds me of Tyler Oakley. :)
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