“American Pie” singer Don McLean — who is still performing and touring in 2023 — was born on this day in history, Oct. 2, 1945, in New Rochelle, New York.
He is forever associated with his iconic hit “American Pie” — which was named one of the Top 5 Songs of the 20th Century in a poll by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Born to Elizabeth and Donald McLean, the young Don McLean developed an interest in music at an early age, says his official website. A five-year-old McLean “would spend hours listening to the radio and records that were around the house.”
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He began learning how to play music, performing for friends and family.
As a teenager, McLean decided to devote his life to music. “I made the right decision when I decided at age 15 that I wanted to chuck it all and be a singer and a musician, and I didn’t care what happened,” he told Fox News Digital in a January 2022 interview.
“That’s what I learned. And it was the best thing I ever did,” he said.
Along the way, he made sure to get a college degree. In 1968, McLean earned a BA from Iona College with a major in finance and a minor in philosophy, his website notes.
McLean recorded his first album, “Tapestry,” in 1969.
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The album received “good reviews and achieved some commercial success,” said McLean’s website.
“Tapestry” transformed McLean “from an unknown to an underground sensation” — and he began to play nightclubs and at colleges, said his site.
“There is something to be said for a great song that has staying power.”
Among the hit songs from the album: “Castles in the Air” and “And I Love You So.”
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Two years later, in 1971, McLean made the jump from nightclubs to super stardom with the release of his second studio album, “American Pie.”
The song was recorded on May 26, 1971, and first played on the radio a month later. It was released as a single in November 1971, says his website.
“American Pie” — a folk-rock “cultural touchstone” about the loss of innocence of the early rock ‘n’ roll generation — hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart on Jan. 15, 1972, after spending eight weeks on the charts, notes the History Channel’s website.
“American Pie” held this record for nearly half a century.
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The record was broken in Nov. 2021 when “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)” by Taylor Swift hit No. 1 at a length of 10 minutes and 13 seconds.
“There is something to be said for a great song that has staying power,” McLean told Billboard at the time.
“‘American Pie’ remained on top for 50 years and now Taylor Swift has unseated such a historic piece of artistry. Let’s face it, nobody ever wants to lose that No. 1 spot, but if I had to lose it to somebody, I sure am glad it was another great singer/songwriter such as Taylor,” he said.
“American Pie” received four Grammy nominations, including for Album of the Year and Song of the Year.
While the song did not win Grammy Awards when it was released, “American Pie” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002.
In the month of October 2023 alone, Don McLean is scheduled to perform in Colorado, Montana, Vermont, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Connecticut and New Jersey.
In 2004, McLean was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.
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He is also well-known for many other hits, including “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)” and “Crying.”
He’s amassed more than 40 gold and platinum records worldwide in his career.
Many top singer-songwriters have released covers of his songs, including Madonna — who in 2000 recorded a cover version of “American Pie” that on release in the U.K. entered the official singles chart at No. 1 and made the U.S. top-30 on air play points alone, according to McLean’s website.
When EMI then released a new “Best of Don McLean” CD, it gave McLean his first top-30 album chart entry in almost 20 years, his website also notes.
McLean was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2004.
McLean is currently touring as part of his “American Pie” 50th anniversary celebration.
In the month of October 2023 alone, he’ll be performing in Colorado, Montana, Vermont, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Connecticut and New Jersey.
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