Don McLean Lifetime Achievement Award



Don McLean was presented with his BBC lifetime achievement award on February 8th in a show broadcast live on British TV and worldwide via BBC radio. Don performed two songs – “And I Love You So” and “Homeless Brother” – which drew a major reaction and for a while Don was ‘trending’ on Twitter!

Don said: “The UK audience has been among the most loyal for over 40 years and without them certainly I wouldn’t be considered for this honour, so I thank the BBC and I thank the British public.”

Earlier in the evening Don was interviewed and performed live versions of Castles in the Air and Everyday on the Simon Mayo Drivetime show on radio 2.



Don McLean elected to National Academy of Popular Music Songwriters’ Hall of Fame

“Game Over, I Win.” After 40 years in the business. Don McLean’s reaction to being elected to the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.

Famed for his perennial 1971 #1 classic “American Pie,” an elegiac eigindex_1ht-and-a-half minute folk-pop epic inspired by the tragic death of Buddy Holly, singer/songwriter Don McLean rose to fame through the folks clubs of New York City during the 60’s. His follow-up to “American Pie,” “Vincent’” was also a smash success, and McLean even became the subject of the Roberta Flack hit “Killing Me Softly With His Song;” however, to his credit, he refused to let the success of “American Pie” straitjacket his career. McLean enjoyed a renaissance with the 1980’s “Chain Lightning,” a Top 30 album, which spawned a Top Ten smash with its cover of Roy Orbison’s classic, “Crying,” and his original “Castles In The Air,” reaching the Top 40.

“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 index_2after 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.” Garth Brooks’ tribute as Don McLean is inaugurated into the National Academy of Popular Music Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, June 10th 2004.

Other inductees in 2004 were: Charles Fox, Al Green, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Barrett Strong & Norman Witfield.

American Pie Grammy Hall of Fame

February 2002 saw yet another honour conferred o­n Don McLean as his song ‘American Pie’ was finally inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The complete list of new entries is as follows:

“Ain’t It a Shame,” Fats Domino
“Alice’s Restaurant,” Arlo Guthrie
“American Pie,” Don McLean
“The Battle of New Orleans,” Johnny Horton
“Billie’s Bounce,” Charlie Parker
Blood, Sweat and Tears, Blood Sweat and Tears
“Born to Be Wild,” Steppenwolf
“Crying,” Roy Orbison
“Do You Believe in Magic,” Loving Spoonful
“Don’t Be Cruel,” Elvis Presley
The Doors, Doors
“Duke of Earl,” Gene Chandler
“Eleanor Rigby,” Beatles
“(Get Your Kicks o­n) Route 66,” King Cole Trio
“Goodnight Irene,” Leadbelly
“The Great Pretender,” Platters
Hello, Dolly!, Original Cast Recording
Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan
Horowitz at Carnegie Hall, Vladimir Horowitz
“How High the Moon,” Ella Fitzgerald
“Jambalaya (On the Bayou),” Hank Williams
“Lucille,” Little Richard
Mahler: The Complete Symphonies, London Philharmonic
“Me and Bobby McGee,” Janis Joplin
“Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” Marvin Gaye
Midnight Special, Leadbelly
“Misty,” Johnny Mathis
“Mr. Sandman,” Chordettes
“Mr. Tambourine Man,” Bob Dylan
“Oye Como Va,” Tito Puente
Piano Concerto No. 1: Tchaikovsky, Van Cliburn
Pinocchio, Motion Picture Soundtrack
Porgy and Bess, Original Cast Recording
Red Headed Stranger, Willie Nelson
“Respect Yourself,” Staple Singers
“Runaround Sue,” Dion
“Runaway,” Del Shannon
“Shotgun,” Jr. Walker and the All-Stars
“Sincerely,” Moonglows
“Society’s Child,” Janis Ian
Songs in the Key of Life, Stevie Wonder
“Sonny Boy,” Al Jolson
“Spanish Harlem,” Ben E. King
Sweet Baby James, James Taylor
“Swinging o­n a Star,” Bing Crosby
“Tears of a Clown,” Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
“Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” Sons of the Pioneers
Vivaldi: The Four Seasons, Louis Kaufman
“Walking the Dog,” Rufus Thomas
“What Kind of Fool Am I?,” Sammy Davis Jr.
“When You Wish Upon a Star,” Cliff Edwards
“Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” Pete Seeger
“Woodchopper’s Ball,” Woody Herman
“You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” Stevie Wonder
“You’ve Got a Friend,” Carol King

The list includes songs such as ‘Crying’ by Roy Orbision and Carole King’s version of ‘You’ve got a friend’ (entering a year after the James Taylor classic version). Perhaps there is hope therefore that Don McLean’s ‘Crying’ and even Madonna’s ‘American Pie’ will enter the Hall of Fame in coming years. More realistically, however, there is a good chance that ‘Vincent’ and ‘And I Love You So’ will join ‘American Pie’ before too long.

Dr Don McLean


Don McLean graduated from Iona College in 1968. Thirty one years later they invited him back to receive an honorary doctorate. Here is the tribute paid by Iona College in conferring the award on Don:

Can music save your mortal soul? Don McLean asked that intriguing question thirty years ago in his landmark song “American Pie.” Setting out, simply and melodiously, to reveal the answer, he has since produced a lifetime of exquisite recordings that capture the struggles and dilemmas of our post-modern age. Providing solace as well as insight in our search for meaning and purpose, his more than 40 albums strike universal themes of loneliness and loss, love and longing, reality and illusion, death and rebirth. With a repertoire that incorporates the diverse styles of folk, rock, pop and bluegrass, this legendary artist has woven a collection distinctive in content, as well as composition, a tapestry celebrated by two generations for its sensitivity and lyricism and, above all, for the honesty of its voice.


That voice first took shape in New Rochelle, as the young songwriter grew up absorbing the pop and rock music of the 1950s and the folk tradition of groups like the Weavers. Soon after hi graduation from Iona College (Class of 1968, Bachelor of Business Administration), with the help of a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, he began reaching a wider public. From these visits to towns up and down the Hudson River, where he learned the art of performing from his friend and mentor Pete Seeger, to the Millennium Concert at the Lincoln Memorial, where he and that President Clinton together sang some of his most famous lyrics, Don McLean has shared his art, first and foremost, with live audiences. These concerts, like those given by troubadours of centuries past elevate, as well as entertain, inspire, as well as instruct, and sometimes have even been known to alter lives. More than popular tunes that come and go with the speed of top-ten lists, the songs of Don McLean – songs like “Vincent,” “Castles in the Air,” “And I Love You So,” and many others – have entered our cultural memory. Recorded by their creator, as well as by artists as diverse as Madonna and Perry Como, Elvis and Fred Astaire, they are part of our national heritage.

Most artists strive for years to achieve success, especially in the fiercely competitive music industryi68a. Don McLean, catapulted to international stardom with the release of “American Pie,” strong to absorb that success, along with the demands that accompany instant fame. A realist, as well as a dreamer, he once told a reporter: “I thought I would last 30 seconds, and now it’s 30 years.”

For leading a life of integrity, guided by a determined refusal to compromise the nature and calibre of his art for using the language of song as a weapon against isolation and indifference; ant for leaving a lasting musical legacy that lifts the spirit and surely does touch the soul, Iona College, hereby confers on DON McLEAN the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Don McLean DM-40 Martin Guitar


71 Instruments To Commemorate The Year That “American Pie” was released.

Don McLean has been a loyal player of Martin guitars throughout his career with more than 14 Martin guitars in his collection. When discussing the edition, McLean said that given a choice between a Grammy and the honor of being chosen for a Martin Limited Edition Signature model, he’d “take the Martin any day.”

The D-40DM is a 14-fret Dreadnought with a solid Engelmann spruce top, the soundhole of which is inlaid with a highly colorful abalone pearl rosette. In order to yield optimum tone, the top braces have been carefully scalloped and shifted forward to a position 1″ from the soundhole. The pickguard is tortoise color with beveled and polished edges to replicate the appearance of Martin’s vintage under-the-finish guards. The top is tinted with aging toner, then lacquered and polished to a high gloss finish.

Apart from its powerful and resonant tone, the most unique aspects of the Don McLean Signature Model guitar are the delicate and innovative abalone pearl inlays. The genuine ebony fingerboard is inlaid with Martin’s standard large hexagon pattern, but upon closer inspection, each of the hexagons has been routed with lettering, filled with crimson, and coated with a durable clear acrylic to reflect (literally) the images of the song, which include “King” (on the 1st fret), “Queen” (3rd fret), “Jester” (5th fret), “Father” (7th fret), “Son” (9th fret), “Holy Ghost” (12th fret), “Jack Flash” (15th fret) and “American Pie” (17th fret). Don McLean’s signature will be inlaid between the 19th and 20th frets. The genuine ebony headplate is bound in white and inlaid with the C. F. Martin & Co. decal logo in Mother Of Pearl which sits atop a slightly modified version of the traditional Martin “torch” inlay pattern. The tuning machines are gold C. F. Martin/Schaller’s with pearloid buttons.  The sides and back are bookmatched from selected East Indian rosewood. The body is bound in white and the back is separated with a Style 45 multi- colored mosaic inlay strip. The neck, with a standard playing width of 1 11/16″ at the nut, is crafted of solid genuine mahogany with Martin’s traditional carved diamond volute.

The interior label of each instrument includes Don McLean’s hand colored “thumbs up” logo. Each label will be personally signed by Don McLean and C.F. Martin, IV, and each instrument will be individually numbered in sequence with the edition total (i.e. #1 of 71, #2 of 71, etc.). A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each D-40DM will be donated to the charity initiated by Don McLean himself, The Don McLean Foundation.  As with all Martin guitars, the construction process takes both time and expertise. Martin Guitar dealers will begin to take orders for the D-40DM Don McLean Limited Edition Model immediately, though due to heavy demand for Martin instruments, this edition will not appear in stores until the early months in 1999. The Martin Guitar
Company dates back to the 1830s when Christian Frederick Martin, Sr. moved to the United States from Europe. The guitar shop he set up over 160 years ago has been continuously family owned and operated. Current Chairman and CEO Chris Martin, IV is the sixth generation Martin to head this venerable company.


MODEL #: D-40DM Don McLean Limited Edition Signature Model
BODY SIZE: Dreadnought 14-fret
TOP: Solid Engelmann Spruce
ROSETTE: Highly Colorful Abalone Pearl
TOP BRACING PATTERN: Scalloped Forward Shifted 5/16″ X-Bracing
BACK: Two Piece East Indian Rosewood
BACK PURFLING: Style 45 Multi-Colored Mosaic Back Inlay Strip
BLOCK TO READ: (Laser Decal Logo)
Don McLean
Limited Edition
Serial #
SIDES: East Indian Rosewood
END PIECE: White Boltaron® with Black/White Inlay
BINDING: White Boltaron® Top Binding Like J-40
Style 35 Side & Back Inlays
NECK: Solid Genuine Mahogany with Old Style Elongated Diamond
NECK SHAPE: Low Profile with Adjustable Rod
HEADSTOCK: Solid Square Tapered w/ Decal Logo Inlaid In Mother Of Pearl
Modified Torch Inlay Nested In Below Decal (Without “Est.
HEADPLATE:     Genuine Ebony
Bound In White Boltaron® with Style 40 Black/White Inlay
HEELCAP: White Boltaron® with Black /White Inlays To Match Side Inlays
NUT: Corian
FINGERBOARD: Genuine Ebony
with Special “American Pie” Routing Filled with Crimson Epoxy as
1st    King
3rd    Queen
5th    Jester
7th    Father
9th    Son
12th    Holy Ghost
15th    Jack Flash
17th    American Pie
19th/20th     Don McLean Signature Inlaid In Pearl
Standard Style 40 Side Position Dots (Like J-40)
FINGERBOARD BINDING: White Boltaron® with Style 40 Black White Inlay
FINISH BODY: Polished Gloss
FINISH TOP: Polished Gloss with Aging Toner o­n Top
FINISH NECK: Satin Finish o­n Neck (Dark Filler), Polished Headplate
BRIDGE: Genuine Ebony
SADDLE: Micarta Compensated Saddle
TUNING MACHINES: M-6G Gold Enclosed Schallers w/ Pearloid Buttons
STRINGS: Martin SP-3200 Medium Gauge Bronze Wound
BRIDGE & END PINS: White w/ Abalone Pearl Dots
PICKGUARD: Tortoise Color, Polished & Beveled
CASE: #500 Series Tweed Dreadnought Hardshell Case
INTERIOR LABEL: To Include Hand Colored “Thumbs Up” Logo
Personally Signed By Don McLean and C. F. Martin IV
Individually Numbered In Sequence, i.e. #1 of 71, #2 of 71, etc.
EDITION SIZE:    71 Instruments To Commemorate The Year That “American
Pie” was released

American Pie – top 5 song of the 20th Century

Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ has been voted number 5 in a poll of the 365 ‘Songs of the Century’ compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The top five are:
“Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland
“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby
“This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie
“Respect” by Aretha Franklin;
and “American Pie” by Don McLean.”

The poll included votes from musicians, critics, industry professionals, elected officials and amateur music fans. Don McLean described it as being a major honor.