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Talented singer-songwriter who began in folk music, performing free on behalf of Pete Seeger’s efforts to clean up the Hudson River. His first album had been turned down by several labels because of his insistence on retaining his own publishing, but Tapestry ’70 was issued on Media Arts, soon taken over by UA; of the songs “And I Love You So” was covered by Perry Como for a Top 30 hit ’73, while his performance of “Empty Chairs” inspired “Killing Me Softly With His Song” (written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox) a Grammy winner and a huge hit for Roberta Flack ’73.
Second album American Pie ’71 incl. irresistibly catchy title track, said to have been inspired by the death of Buddy Holly, but also a sentimental song about America that could be embraced by everybody as the USA reeled from Vietnam and Watergate: the 8.5 minute track as a two-sided single was no.1 for seven weeks and even pulled the first LP into the charts. “Vincent/Castles In The Air” from the same LP was a no. 12 hit and “Vincent” (no.1 in the UK) was being played daily in the entrance to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam.
In 2004 Don McLean was inaugurated into the National Academy of Popular Music Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. His award was presented by Garth Brooks who paid this tribute: “Don McLean his work, like the man himself is very deep and very compassionate. His pop anthem American Pie is a cultural phenomenon, and people are still trying to decode it after 35 years! He wrote other great songs like, And I Love You So, If We Try, Wonderful Baby, Winterwood, and my personal favorite Empty Chairs, which just kills me as a fan and a songwriter.”
In 2014 Don performed for 30,000 at the Stagecoach Festival – one of the premier country music events in the US. According to the Daily News “the audience went wild, screaming, jumping, dancing. Even after the song was over, the audience still lingered, basking in the afterglow of the performance”