This page uses content from the Don McLean biography page on the English version of Wikipedia and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. This list of authors can be seen in the page history. Rotten Tomatoes disclaims any and all warranties as to the accuracy or reliability of the content.
Don McLean is an American singer-songwriter, most famous for his 1971 ballad American Pie.
He was born on October 2 1945 in New Rochelle, New York. McLean graduated from Iona Preparatory School in 1963 but dropped out of college before getting a degree. He was a popular folk singer at campus events. With the help of a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, he began reaching a wider public, with visits to towns up and down the Hudson River. He learned the art of performing from his friend and mentor Pete Seeger. McLean accompanied Seeger on his Clearwater boat up the Hudson River in 1969 to protest at environmental pollution in the river. The Clearwater campaign was widely credited for improving water quality in the Hudson River.
Don McLean's most famous composition, American Pie, is about the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper amongst many other themes. The song spawned the phrase "The Day the Music Died", referring to the day of the crash.
His other well-known songs include
The album American Pie features a version of Psalm 137, Babylon arranged by Don McLean and Lee Hays (The Weavers). Boney M would have a number one hit in the UK with this song in 1978 under the title Rivers of Babylon, although the two renditions are so different it is not immediately noticeable that they are versions of the same song.
A poem about McLean, Killing Me Softly With His Blues by Lori Lieberman, was reworked into a song called Killing Me Softly With His Song by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel. Lieberman was the first to record it (in 1972), but the song has two more well-known covers. The first major hit version was by Roberta Flack in 1973; The Fugees's version was a major hit in 1996
In 1980, McLean had an international number one hit with the Roy Orbison classic, Crying. Only following the record's success overseas was it released in the USA, becoming a top 10 hit in 1981. Orbison himself once described McLean as "the voice of the century", and a subsequent re-recording of the song saw Orbison incorporate elements of McLean's version.
In 1991, Don McLean returned to the UK top 20 with a re-issue of American Pie. The song became a worldwide smash again in 2000 when covered by Madonna.
In 2003, George Michael covered Don's anti-war song The Grave from the American Pie album in protest at the imminent invasion of Iraq by the US and allied forces.
As of 2006, Don continues to tour extensively both in the U.S. and Europe. His new album Addicted to Black is due out later this year, along with his biography Killing Us Softly: The Don McLean Story.
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