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Don McLean – A Groovy American Pop Culture Legend In His Own Time

Music | December 12, 2018

Don McLean AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - American musician Don McLean performs live on stage at the Grand Gala in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 15th February 1974. (Photo By Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Singer, songwriter, Don McLean is without a doubt one of America's most iconic pop culture icons of the groovy era and beyond. He made his debut on the music charts back in 1971 and since that time, has been a musical marvel, entertaining fans going on 50 years now. Throughout his epic career which is still playing out (pun intended), he has given the music world so many classic hits that will live on long after he is gone.

Don McLean/American Pie (toomanyblogs.co.uk)

Don McLean is probably best known for his classic hit song, American Pie.

American Pie is arguably one of the greatest claims to fame of McLean’s music career. In addition to this fan favorite, also on the short list is, Vincent (Starry Starry Night), Castles In The Air, And I Love You So and Crying. McLean’s singing and songwriting talent have always made it difficult to have just one favorite.

Don McLean began his music career in 1969 being widely known for his folk style music but fans of all genres adored him!

Below is a quote testifying to McLean’s iconic talent:

“A sprawling rumination on counter-culture’s impact on the American dream. One-by-one, the largely baby boomer audience sprung up like popping corn, singing every word and confirming American Pie as their Hey Jude or Wonderwall.”

– James Hall, The Telegraph

American Pie – Gold Album (goldrecordsoutlet.com)

After hitting the music charts, Don McLean went on to super-stardom earning over 40 Gold and Platinum records all around the World throughout his career.

Don McLean has always been known for his soulful and thoughtful songwriting style. This quality is not something that can be taught… it is an inherent gift he was born with. The lyrics and deeper meaning of McLean’s songs have always resonated with his fans. You don’t have to be a product of the groovy era to make a personal connection with one of his hit songs.

Don McLean Hyde Park Free Concert (ukrockfestivals.com)

On May 31, 1975, Don McLean performed live for a massive crowd at London’s Hyde Park.

Ironically, when Don McLean performed at the music festival at Hyde Park in 1975, he had intended it to be his farewell to live concerts. That’s right… he was planning on giving up performing live and had planned on this performance being a “goodbye” to his faithful fans in the United Kingdom. Apparently, he had a change of heart after standing before the British crowd of approximately 85,000 fans.

Homeless Brother Album Cover (clasf.co.za)

Over the years, McLean went on to write countless songs and perform many more live concerts. His album, Homeless Brother, is considered to be the masterpiece of his career. It is said to be profoundly philosophical. Below is a (profound) quote regarding this album:

“His masterpiece remains one of the great achievements of the singer-songwriter era: eight and a half minutes of allegory, reflection, and melody documenting the history of rock’n’roll and the death of 1950s innocence. He played it, of course, and brilliantly, getting everyone creaking on to their feet and singing along. Before that came almost two hours of well-worn rock’n’roll and acoustic folk that placed McLean somewhere between a straight-up entertainer and a poetic maverick.”

– Marilynn Kingwell, The Times

Buddy Holly (birminghammail.co.uk)

McLean drew musical motivation from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson); but none more than Buddy Holly who was his inspiration for, American Pie.

Don McLean’s musical idols left him with big shoes to fill. Sadly, Sinatra is the only one able to experience his success. In 2004 McLean was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall Of Fame. He is still entertaining fans and many of his epic songs are still being covered today by current artists. It is safe to say that his contribution to the music world would have made his other idols proud, although they never got to know him.

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.