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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
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Best Of Don McLean

1. American Pie

2. Vincent

3. And I Love You So

4. Crying

5. Castles In The Air (1970)

6. Driedel

7. Winterwood

8. Every Day

9. Mountains O'Mourne

10. Prime Time

x

Track List: Chain Lightning

1. Words And Music

2. Crying

3. It's Just The Sun

5. Chain Lightning

9. Since I Don't Have You

11. It's A Beautiful Life

x

Track List: Playin' Favorites

x

Track List: American Pie

1. American Pie

2. Till Tomorrow

3. Vincent

4. Crossroads

5. Winterwood

6. Empty Chairs

7. Evereybody Loves Me Baby

8. Sister Fatima

9. The Grave

10. Babylon

x

Track List: Tapestry

1. Castles In The Air

2. General Store

3. Magdalene Lane

4. Tapestry

5. Respectable

6. Orphans Of Wealth

7. Three Flights Up

8. And I Love You So

9. Bad Girl

10. Circus Song

11. No Reason For Your Dreams

x

Track List: Addicted To Black

1. Addicted To Black

2. Run, Diana Run

3. Beside Myself

4. Mary Lost A Ring

5. Lovers Love The Spring

6. Promise To Remember

7. The Three Of Us

8. Shadowland

9. I Was Always Young

10. This Is America (Eisenhower)

11. In A Museum

x

Track List: American Pie - The Very Best Of Don McLean

1. American Pie

2. Vincent

3. And I Love You So

4. Crying

5. Since I Don't Have You

6. Castles In The Air

7. It's Just The Sun

8. Jerusalem

9. It's A Beautiful Life

10. Headroom

11. 1967

12. Infinity

13. One In A Row

14. Lady In Waiting

15. Have You Seen Me

17. A Brand New World

Comments

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mack19506
the ultimate song...do you really know the meaning of the song?
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Best song ever
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I asked to hear Do Mclean and all I can get is Lionell Richie for some reason. Pandora is user UNFREINDLY
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One of my favorite songs
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kelleylinda8 4 0
❤❤❤❤
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I remember singing this song on the last night at sleep away camp. It's a sad song but a great tribute to the loss of great rock n roll guys.
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fabulous song writing..

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This the day
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Free Bird is longer...so is Innagoddadiv i d a (sic?)
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Bye-bye Miss American pie! ��
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Can you teach me how to dance real slow???
Best song ever!!!
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This song has to be one of the longest songs I ever heard and I love it.
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bilson777
JIM CROCE IS TRULY AN ARTIST AND ALL WAYS IS
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This song will always be my favorite because my siblings performed it at a competition. . . and because it bring my family together.
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I could make the people dance. American Pie. What a song
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Van Gogh's Letters a beautiful intimate read...an artist of exemplary beauty,,,,
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this recording reigns supreme.
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rjohnson4923
I can do anything just want someone to do it with. I deserve it!!
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Try sing this song at keroki
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<3 it
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One of the best R and R songs ever!
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I just love this song. Spoke the truth about this song.
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Love this song and so do my parents! And my brother EVEN MY DOG WAS BOUNCING AROUND WHEN IT WAS PLAYING!!! It was so funny! ��
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Best of him In my book I love this song
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pointeribbon s
BEST SONG EVER

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This song is a great tribute to the memories of Richie Valans, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper.
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American pie . Great song
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williamjlutz
One of the greatest songwriters ever. I was lucky to be able to see him onstage at Carnegie Hall shortly after the album's release. I won tickets on a local radio station! Awesome time, sitting just 15 feet from the man.
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tatidabxmami 2 4
You can google the break down of this song. People have literally tried to interpret it line by line. One of the best songs ever!!!
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I hope you havent forgotten me your my preasous special friend of mine Mike your mimi
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Everyone already knew that...
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That was for anyone who didn't know -_-
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We know that...
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When Don says "the day the music died", he's referring to three really famous singers died when their plane crashed.
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Always will love this song from Don McLean.
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he is a cruel wife beating man my father did work for him till he was arested for assult on his wife at their home in mane
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alexandraabe l l a 1 7
❤❤❤❤❤
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This is the day that I die
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Jack be nimble jack be quick
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The music will never die only the singers .but this song really hits hard
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2020186049
This is the saddest song I ever heard
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Yaaas
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song and painting make me smile :)
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song and painting make me smile ;)
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My all time favorite song...
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ken.otwell
Someone once asked him what the song means. He said, It means I never have to work again.
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sean_thompso n 7 3
Thanks Don. You're the best!
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Awesome song American Pie
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Great song from Don McLean.
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Best music ever that put a mark back in our times. MD
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