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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

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Floating with the tune
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"Lenin read a book on Marx" never fails to make me laugh. A truly great song!
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This song was written for Ritchie Valens Buddy Holley and The Big Bopper. They all died tragically in 1959. The Beatles had NOTHING to do with this song. It was written long before the Beatles broke up.
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Hello all who commented wrong. This song was written about Vincent van Gogh. Starry, starry night was the name of Vincent's famous painting. :)
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Lv Bee-This song was written about Vincent Van Gogh
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bcodmcd1
written for Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. The Big Bopper Richardson. about their plane crash
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John Lennon is who this song was written for
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One of the best songs ever
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erin7393
Not quite, Lv Bee.
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he made this song for one of the Beatles members who died i cant remember which one of them it was.
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I have a love/hate relationship with this song... love wins
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Great thoughts, lyrics, one of my favorites, also Starry, Starry night
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American pie anthem for a generation
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Great song. Good old days...
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azaleaannbec e r r a
Still love the song after all these years!!!
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michaelsemid e y 5
Live in Puerto Rico, raised in the states (Florida back in 1972 ! This brings back lot of memories. Just a great song !
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American Pie, still love it.
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jolly good show \(^_^)/
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Best song ever American pie go down in history best pie song ever lol
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Weird ALS parody does it no justice whatsoever and I loved the parody but it can't compare to this. Beautiful song
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Greatest song ever.
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t_heath
The new version is great.....th i s is one of those songs that will stay around forever....a classic..... .
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So sad, it touched my heart.
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Omg I love this song!
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tripp.ben1
Great song brings good memories of grandmother who first got me into it from a tape in a Sony Walkman. Good times
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I actually had the opportunity to see Don in concert in Jamestown NY in in 1986, he played a wonderful medley of tunes including American pie. Very good concert and glad to have the opportunity to experience this great artist.. :)
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So, you get to write, two or there of the best songs ever, so good that people will always sing them with reverence and wonder, but that's it, you only get those few, and then it's over. Would you take that deal? I would, with one song he totally changed the direction of a sound
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This song has a great meaning if you can truly interpret what he is saying. We need more artist like don now adays because every one is revolved around sex and drugs I wish I was old enough to have actually seen him live
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American pie was a song that my friends & I fell n love with. It had such a deep meaning to us, as if it reached I side & touched our soul. We were maybe 12 yr. Old at the time. Now @ 55 yr. Of age., I have to honestly say....it still manages to touch me the same way. So yes my music library has truly GROWN, more than I ever knew possible. Yet AMERICAN PIE, will always bring back that special memory.
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This song was my dads favorite .. I remember him listening to it in El Salvador before he came to the USA to arrange for me,my sis and Mom to live.. Thank You Mr.McLean.. RIP DAD.. And thank you
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Don McLean and American Pie...amazin g : )
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Don McLean is brilliant.
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dragonlady60 8 8
god bless america!"""" ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! " ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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dragonlady60 8 8
this is a golden classic oldie but american"""
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dragonlady60 8 8
al...is wierd...lmao
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My favorite song has always been Vincent.... I was a singer once also!!
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This music moves me to times of my childhood and it was a fun time, playing in the streets of New York under the street lamps on summer nights...goo d stuff.
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My moms dancing
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skitchens200 9
I listened to this song during my last dentist appointment.
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Love story songs like this and Taxi and Same Old Lang's Eyne and Wildfire and others I cant think of.....
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grrrreat!!!!
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Old. School
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Good song
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livnngrace2
Weird Al's parody the trilogy begins anyone
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kfitzgerald6 9 1
F**king planes
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Something touched me deep inside!!!
It made me....cry!

(Sniff) like!

Dream on
Duke
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Always liked Castles in the Air--I know I'm weak, but I can't face that girl again.
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tmeier920
The bar at college was called the American Tap and American Pie was its signature song, played at least 3 or 4 times a night. Brings back a lot of great memories from college.
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yolo
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McLean was way beyond his time back then, and to this day he still is...
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