Don McLean performing at Trine; tickets on sale Dec. 8

December 01, 2023

Don McLeanThe writer of one of the top songs of the 20th century, Don McLean, will bring “American Pie” and other classics to the stage of Trine University’s T. Furth Center for Performing Arts on May 18, 2024.

The concert begins at 8 p.m., with doors to the Ryan Concert Hall opening one hour prior.

Tickets will go on sale beginning Dec. 8 at trine.link/tickets and range from $50 to $70.

Born in 1945, McLean developed an interest in all forms of music by age 5 and would spend hours listening to the radio and records around the house. 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. By this time, his musical focus was on folk music thanks, in part, to The Weavers landmark 1955 recording “Live at Carnegie Hall.”

In 1969, Don recorded his first album, “Tapestry,” in Berkeley, California. The album was first released by Mediarts and attracted good reviews. It succeeded in transforming Don McLean from an unknown to an underground sensation.

The transition to international stardom began in 1971 with the release of “American Pie.” Thirty years later, “American Pie” was voted fifth 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 second single, “Vincent,” charted on March 18, 1972, going on to reach No. 12 in the US and No. 1 in the United Kingdom.

In the wake of “American Pie,” McLean became a major worldwide concert attraction and was able to call upon material not only from his two albums but from his extensive repertoire of American popular music, 1950s rock ‘n’ roll and folk music, in addition to the complete catalogues of singers such as Buddy Holly, Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Pete Seeger and Frank Sinatra.

With all this success, “Tapestry” was reissued by United Artists. It includes two of McLean’s most famous songs: “And I Love You So” and “Castles in the Air.”

His third album, simply entitled “Don McLean”, included the song “The Pride Parade” that provides an insight into Don’s immediate reaction to stardom. The fourth album, “Playin’ Favorites” became a top-40 hit in the UK in 1973 and included the classic, “Mountains of Mourne” and Buddy Holly’s “Everyday”, a live rendition of which returned McLean to the UK singles chart.

Throughout the 1970s, Don McLean remained an in-demand concert performer. In 1978, Don’s career began with “Chain Lightning” and the UK No 1, “Crying.” The early 1980s saw further chart successes with “Since I Don’t Have You,” a new recording of “Castles in the Air” and “It’s Just the Sun.”

In 1987, the release of the country-based “Love Tracks” album gave rise to the hit singles “Love in My Heart” (top 10 in Australia), “Can’t Blame the Wreck on the Train” (US country #49) and “Eventually.”

In 2000, Madonna recorded a cover version of “American Pie” that on release in the UK entered the official singles chart at number 1 and made the US top 30 on air play points alone. This prompted EMI to release a new “Best of Don McLean” CD that gave McClean his first top 30 album chart entry in almost 20 years.

The 21st Century has seen new honors for Don McLean and his music. In February 2002, “American Pie” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

In 2004, McLean was inaugurated into the National Academy of Popular Music Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. In 2015, one of McLean’s four handwritten manuscripts of the lyrics to “American Pie” was auctioned by Christie’s, selling for just over $1.2 Million.

In 2017 “American Pie” was inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. In 2018, McLean released his 19th studio album, Botanical Gardens, arguably one of his most reflective recordings to date.

In 2021, McLean received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and recorded a version of “American Pie” with a cappella group Home Free, resulting in a video that was #1 for eight weeks on the country music video charts. He continues to license his music and lyrics to commercials, movies and fellow artists.

For information on this and other events at the T. Furth Center for Performing Arts, visit trine.edu/furth.

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