His breakthrough 1971 hit "American Pie" soared to No. 1 in the U.S. and became a folk-rock anthem for a generation of music fans, catapulting singer-songwriter Don McLean into the spotlight. With a repertoire of material that also includes "Vincent (Starry Starry Night)" and a celebrated version of Roy Orbison's "Crying," McLean has performed at some of the most prestigious concert venues in the world, among them New York's Carnegie Hall and the Royal Albert Hall in London. The latest Don McLean tour continues a long legacy of live performances, during which fans can expect to hear covers of classic pop songs, as well as the Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee's original compositions.
Don McLean's background
Don McLean began his music career playing on the New York City folk circuit in the mid-'60s. He released his debut album, Tapestry, in 1970, but found more fame in these early days as a songwriter, most notably when Perry Como had a hit with the McLean-penned "And I Love You So." The song would be covered by the likes of Elvis Presley, Shirley Bassey, Glen Campbell and Engelbert Humperdinck.
Massive success as a singer would come in 1971 with the album American Pie and its epic title track. Both the album and single went to No. 1 on the charts. The song "Vincent (Starry Starry Night)" also became a big hit.
In 1980, McLean's star rose once more with Chain Lightning, which charted in the top 30 and yielded a No. 5 hit single with a cover of Roy Orbison's "Crying." Orbison called it the best cover of one of his songs he'd ever heard. Other charting singles from the album were "Castles in the Air" and "Since I Don't Have You."
The song "American Pie" is undoubtedly Don McLean's magnum opus, an eight-plus-minute song inspired by the death of his idol, Buddy Holly, along with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper, in 1959 ("The Day the Music Died"). The affectionate history of rock and roll, intertwined with autobiographical details and nods to post-WWII cultural icons, was an instant hit. The song has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and was voted No. 5 in a 2001 poll of the "365 Songs of the Century" conducted by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.