Don McLean was born on 1945-10-02 in New Rochelle
, the son of Elizabeth and Donald McLean. His father died when he was 15, a few months after their first holiday
together. Don was 13 the day the music died
, a matter which would never have been mentioned but for the fact that his most famous song is without a doubt "American Pie
", which is known to a great many people (although the vast majority of people do not know any of his other songs).
He attended Villanova University
for a grand total of 4 months, after which he joined Harold Leventhal Management, and played at venues such as Bitter End and Gaslight Café in New York, the Newport Folk Festival
, the Cellar Door in Washington, D.C., the Main Point in Philadelphia, the Troubadour and Ash Grove in Los Angeles and over forty colleges
throughout New York
and New England
over the course of 6 years.
He began attending night school
and achieved a Bachelor's Degree
in 1968 from Iona College in Business Administration
. After this he turned down a scholarship
to Columbia University
Graduate School to become the resident singer at Café Lena
. A year later he became a member of the "crew" of Sloop Clearwater
along with Pete Seeger
together they gave concerts all along the American Atlantic
Don recorded his first album, "Tapestry
" in 1969, which achieved moderate success, but in November 1971 he released "American Pie
", which was recently voted one of the top 10 best songs of the 20th Century (and rightly so!)
. He released the second single, "Vincent
" (also well known) in 1972. After these offerings, he became a major concert attraction, on both sides of the Atlantic. He followed this with a re-issue of "Tapestry" in 1972, followed by "Don McLean" and "Playing Favourites".
In 2000 Madonna
covered "American Pie
", which prompted a release of a greatest hits album (which I'm listening to as I type this, and is what made me get into Don McLean). Don received an honourary Doctorate from his Alma Mater
Iona College in 2001, and his work is widely acclaimed as classic, even decades after release.
The theme of many of Don's songs is a disappointment in modern, city living, and a wish for an almost more agrarian lifestyle, but certainly one unhampered by "city life". A lot of the songs include phrases such as "I cannot be part of the cocktail generation" or "And enslave you till you work your youth away, Oh god how I worked my youth away.".
Don's music is that of a singer-songwriter who feels what he sings, but puts it to a wide range of music, always strongly influenced by folk music
. I urge anyone to listen to a few songs, and not judge all his work on American Pie