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God's Gift of Music: Don McLean

Updated: Nov 19, 2022

Don McLean Performs American Pie Live at BBC in 1972

Video from BBC Newsnight


"American Pie - performed at the BBC in 1972. As Don McLean auctions off the original annotated lyric sheet to American Pie, we dug this live performance out of the BBC archive. It came from 'Sounds For Saturday' in 1972." from video introduction


Don McClean Biography

"Don McLean was born on October 2, 1945, in New Rochelle, New York, to Elizabeth and Donald McLean. By the age of five he had developed an interest in all forms of music and would spend hours listening to the radio and records that were around the house. Childhood asthma meant that Don missed long periods of school and while he slipped back in his studies, his love of music was allowed to flourish. He would often perform shows for family and friends. As a teenager, he purchased his first guitar (a Harmony F Hole with a sunburst finish) from the House of Music in New Rochelle and took voice lessons paid for by his sister. These lessons combined with running, walking, and swimming, helped Don to develop breath control, which would later allow him to sing long, continuous phrases, in songs such as “Crying”, without taking a breath. The exercise also meant his asthma improved. In 1961, Don took his only vacation with his father – a trip to Washington D.C. Sadly, a few months later his father died. Don was just 15 years old.

By this time, Don’s musical focus was on folk music thanks, in part, to The Weavers landmark 1955 recording “Live at Carnegie Hall”. Don was determined to become a professional musician and singer and, as a 16-year-old, he was already making contacts in the business. After getting his home number from the telephone directory, Don phoned Fred Hellerman and later, Erik Darling. Don and Erik became friends and Don visited his apartment in New York.." from his website; donmclean.com


Don McLean: How He Wrote American Pie, Vincent and His Friendship with Pete Seeger. Part One

Video from Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum


"This interview is part one with Don McLean. Don tells how he wrote "American Pie" and "Vincent" as well as discussing his friendship with Pete Seeger. Don is a Grammy award honoree, a Songwriter Hall of Fame member, a BBC Lifetime Achievement award recipient, and his smash hit “American Pie” resides in the Library of Congress National Recording Registry and was named by the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) a top 5 song of the 20th Century." from video introduction


Creating a Cultural Icon - Don McLean Part Two

Video from Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum


This is part two of our interview with Don McLean. Don is a Grammy award honoree, a Songwriter Hall of Fame member, a BBC Lifetime Achievement award recipient, and his smash hit “American Pie” resides in the Library of Congress National Recording Registry and was named by the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) a top 5 song of the 20th Century. Don McLean's Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC821..." from video introduction


The Day the Music Died - Official Trailer

Video from Nordisk Film Kino


"Hit song “American Pie” gets its close-up when documentary The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don McLean’s American Pie debuts on Paramount Plus July 19, 2022. The film premieres in select theaters July 8, 2022.

Running close to nine minutes, the song came out in 1971 and touches on rock ‘n’ roll and American history through a plentitude of allusions. In the film, McLean shares the details behind the tune. “The film tells stories of the people who were a part of this moment from the beginning and shows the point of view of a new generation of artists who are motivated by the same values and ideas that inspired the song’s creation,” teased Paramount Plus.

“Not only is ‘American Pie one of the most universally known songs of all time, it also represents a significant piece of musical history and a pivotal moment in American culture. It’s a story that needs to be told and we’re excited to have The Day the Music Died take fans deeper into the song’s making, finally put to rest the speculation behind its lyrics and hear from today’s biggest artists–both legends and future stars–who it has personally influenced,” said Bruce Gillmer, president of music, music talent, programming and events at Paramount, and chief content officer of music at Paramount Plus. “A global sensation deserves a global launch and we’re thrilled to add this film to Paramount Plus’s unmatched portfolio of premiere music content.” from the article: ‘American Pie’ Documentary on Paramount Plus July 19


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