American Singer-Songwriter Don McLean turns 78 today

The song “American Pie” remains a strong cultural reference around the world

American Singer-Songwriter Don McLean turns 78 today

Don McLean was born Donald McLean III on October 2nd, 1945 in New Rochelle, New York. McClean first got noticed during the late 1960’s when he became a well known name inside the Folk music circuit. In 1969 he released his first album, “Tapestry” which was recorded in Berkeley, California, during the student riots. After being rejected 72 times by labels, the album was released by Mediarts, a label that had not existed when he first started to look for a label. It attracted good reviews but little notice outside the folk community. McLean’s major break came when Mediarts was taken over by United Artists Records. His second album “American Pie”, promoted by United Artists it spawned two No.1 hits, one in the title song and “Vincent”. The “American Pie” success made McLean an international star and piqued interest in his first album, which charted more than two years after its initial release. “American Pie”, is an impressionistic ballad inspired partly by the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) in a plane crash in 1959, along with developments in American youth culture in the subsequent decade (1960’s). The song popularized the expression “The Day the Music Died” in reference to the crash. The song was recorded on May 26, 1971, and a month later received its first radio airplay in New York to mark the closing of Fillmore East, the famous New York concert hall. “American Pie” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 from January 15-February 5, 1972, and remains McLean’s most successful single release. With a total running time of 8:36 encompassing both sides of the single, it is also the longest song to reach No. 1. Despite speaking exclusively about American life and events , the song became a worldwide hit that endures to this day. McLean continues to have a very active career but was never able to replicate the success he had in 1972 with “American Pie”. In 2001 “American Pie” was voted No. 5 in a poll of the 365 Songs of the Century compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. In March 2017, Don McLean’s “American Pie” single was designated an “aural treasure” by the Library of Congress, “worthy of preservation” in the National Recording Registry “as part of America’s patrimony”. “American Pie” it’s an enduring Pop Culture reference that stands strong to this day. The song has been covered extensively over the years, one of the most popular versions is the one made by Madonna in 2000.

Watch Don McLean performing a fantastic live version of “American Pie” during the early 1970’s

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