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About Don McLean
nullDon McLean is one of America's most enduring singer-songwriters and is forever associated with his classic hits ‘American Pie' and ‘Vincent (Starry Starry Night)'. Since first hitting the charts in 1971, Don has amassed over 40 gold and platinum recor s world-wide and, in 2004, was inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame. His songs have been recorded by artists from every musical genre, most notably Madonna's No. 1 recording of ‘American Pie' in 2000 and George Michael's version of ‘The Grave' in 2003, sung in protest at the Iraq War.
Don McLean (b. 2 Oct 1945, New Rochelle, NY) - talented singer-songwriter who began in folk music, performing free on behalf of Pete Seeger's efforts to clean up the Hudson River. His first album had been turned down by several labels because of his insistence on retaining his own publishing, but Tapestry '70 was issued on Media Arts, soon taken over by UA; of the songs "And I Love You So" was covered by Perry Como for a Top 30 hit '73, while his performance of "Empty Chairs" inspired "Killing Me Softly With His Song" (written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox) a Grammy winner and a huge hit for Roberta Flack '73.
Second album American Pie '71 incl. irresistibly catchy title track, said to have been inspired by the death of Buddy Holly, but also a sentimental song about America that could be embraced by everybody as the USA reeled from Vietnam and Watergate: the 8.5 minute track as a two-sided single was no.1 for seven weeks and even pulled the first LP into the charts. "Vincent/Castles In The Air" from the same LP was a no. 12 hit and "Vincent" (no.1 in the UK) was being played daily in the entrance to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam.
Third album Don McLean '72 was a no. 23 LP, incl. top 30 "Dreidel".
"Playin' Favorites" '73 got back to folk/country roots and did not chart in the USA, but incl. "Everyday", top 40 single in the UK.
Homeless Brother '74 was a no. 120 LP, incl. "The Legend of Andrew McCrew", a true story about a black hobo who died aged 13, was exhibited in carnivals as a ‘petrified man', not buried until '73.
Two-disc, Solo '76 incl. all the hits, followed by a switch to Arista label for Prime Time '77.
With the coast clear he had hits again on Millenium label: top 30 LP Chain Lightning '81 incl. no. 5 cover of old Roy Orbison hit, ‘Crying' (no. 1 in the UK), also top 30 hit, ‘Since I Don't Have You'.
Believers '82 made top 200 LP's incl. new top 30 version of ‘Castles In The Air' (also minor hit in the UK).
Dominion '83 on EMI/UK was two-disc set made in concert at London's Dominion Theatre.
Love Tracks '87 was on Capitol (incl. ‘Eventually').
Classics, Headroom and The River of Love were on Curb CD's.
Don McLean was asked by President Clinton to sing at the Lincoln Memorial on New Year's Eve 1999 and attended to the Founders Dinner at the White House, honouring artists and industrialists.
"Starry, Starry Nights" was a PBS TV special filmed at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, with guests incl. Nanci Griffith and Garth Brooks and first broadcast in 2000.
Don formed Don McLean Records in 2001: first releases were Don McLean Sings Marty Robbins and 2-CD Starry, Starry Night from the PBS special.
Madonna had covered ‘American Pie' for a huge international hit and Weird Al Yankovic rewrote it as ‘The Saga Begins' to send up Star Wars. Some people were surprised that Don allowed Yankovic's record, as though he didn't have a sense of humour; in fact a cultural artefact can only be used for this kind of affectionate satire if it is deeply loved in the first place.
Finally, ‘American Pie' was named the fifth greatest song of the 20th Century by the NEA-RIAA (after, ‘Over The Rainbow', ‘White Christmas', ‘This Land Is My Land' and ‘Respect').
In 2002 Don McLean received an honorary doctorate from Iona College on "Don McLean" Day in New Rochelle, NY.
In 2004 Don was inducted in "Song Writers Hall of Fame" in New York.