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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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bryan cadd
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Listen to John Meyer version from Letterman
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marionfiggs
Classic
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The best song for when your sad a want to feel alive
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What a song
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Great song!
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Re Cybercholo50 0 0 :

No, it was written by Lieberman about Mclean, not Dylan:

According to Lori Lieberman, the artist who performed the original recording in 1972, the song was born of a poem she wrote after experiencing a strong reaction to the song Empty Chairs, written, composed, and recorded by Don McLean.<4> She then related this information to Gimbel, who took her feelings and put them into words. Then, Gimbel passed the words on to Fox, who set them to music.
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Beautiful song������
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cknight472
The music never did and never will die, only our dreams will. Don't let those dreams of yours die.
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Awesome song!! Love it!!
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In 1970 drove 63 CHEVY. from MI to CA life following singing!
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luv this tune !��
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tune that hits the top of my listening pleasure!
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classic1027
Possibly the greatest song ever!
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I like the original version. :-)
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dragonlady60 8 8
Rock and Roll will never die!!!
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Had great times bk in the day w/my Rock Hall girls. This song brings bk a lot of awesome memories. The good times
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I love him and his songwriting!
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Can't get enough of this guy.
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Here are some examples when he says I drove-my Chevy to the levy it's actually a Chevrolet commercial that said drive your Chevy to the levy which is kinda like a little stream and in the 50s that was a hang out spot so when he says the levy was dry he's saying that the good times where gone
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If you listen to the lyrics you can figure out the meaning of the song
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This song is partly about buddy holly and the big bopper but it is actually about the transition from the 50s to the 60s and he is singing about the differences between the two and how he didn't like it
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Great Great Song!!
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Thé day musiccc DIED
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Killing Me Softly was not written by Flack for McClean. It was by Lori Lieberman who saw Bob Dylan perform. Ooops!
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I share his birthday with u! 1955 though. :)
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Probably one of the best albums ever produced.
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Follow for follow
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follow for follow
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best song ever
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brightstarde b b i e
I still Love American Pie !!!
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cessnas2013
I must agree with several person's comments above : klloveland3, bocalvmmills 7 9 3 3 and not lastly, randyruss0
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Actually Don McLean has repeatedly refused to say what promted this song. Many people have put their spin on what it's about. e.g. Buddy Holly, The Big Booper, etc. etc. etc.. But McLean stays silent as to who exactly it was written for or about.
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T, And I LYS..... NL
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thebestclair e b e a r
sry my little sis who is 3 just said that
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thebestclair e b e a r
no your a dumb bo
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scillaburton
I thought this song was written about JFK
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klloveland3
Artists today don't even come close to this song.
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One of the best!!!!
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dragonlady60 8 8
The end of rock and roll......!! !
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It's a classic..Bri n g s back better times. It's the little things!! The day the music died...Did it?
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When I was in technical school for the Air Force, I was so very homesick. My sisters would send me tapes of them telling me stories. My baby sister sent me a tape of her playing the piano and singing Vincent to me. I still cry when I hear it. I love Don McLean's voice. It was so pure and American Pie was the best song and I knew it word-for-wor d . . . .
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Good song it's just........ 1 0 MINUTES :O WOW
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mensaguru1
Plane most likely was blown into known icing conditions without icing equipment
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ight mass
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people, please stop freaking people out with lies like this one I just saw, This freaked me out. This isn't fake. Apparently, if you copy and paste this on ten comments in ten minutes, you will have the best day of your life tomorrow. You will either be kissed or asked out. If you break this chain, you will see a little girl in your room tonight. In the next 53 minutes someone will say I love you or I'm sorry.
because I've never done anything like this before and in 53 minutes I will be at Midn
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Danced my wedding night away to this song!
One of the most well thought out songs ever.
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This is my hairbrush performance song!!! Singing and dancing to it while pretending my hairbrush is my microphone, guitar and drum stick. I love dancing with my girls.
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this version is beyond awful
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