The Don McLean Story

The Don McLean Story

The Don McLean Story
The Don McLean Story: Killing Us Softly with His Songs by Alan Howard

For the first time Don McLean shared his life story in this 420-page biography available from Amazon (print and Kindle) and other top bookstores. This site provides information about the book and regular additions of free sample content from book chapters. The site also contains full details about all albums released by Don McLean.


Chapter 1: Everyone’s Caught on a Carousel Pony…Growing Up in New Rochelle
Chapter 2: Castles in the Air…Musical Apprenticeship, 1960s
Chapter 3: Tapestry…The Hudson River Troubadour
Chapter 4: Magdalene Lane…First Record Deal
Chapter 5: American Pie…Something touched me deep inside…
Chapter 6: Starry, Starry Night…Vincent and the Grammys
Chapter 7: Dreidel…My world is a constant confusion…
Chapter 8: Homeless Brother…There’s Freedom When You’re Walking…
Chapter 9: Prime Time…Nashville and Jerusalem
Don McLean on Song Making and Recording
Chapter 10: “Crying”…The Comeback
Chapter 11: Crossroads…1980s, Litigation
Chapter 12: And I Love You So…1990s, Family, and the Surf Ballroom
Chapter 13: Garth Brooks and Madonna…Another Planet
Chapter 14: A Long, Long Time Ago…Don McLean on American Pie

Don McLean is one of America’s most enduring singer-songwriters and is forever associated with his classic hits ‘American Pie’ and ‘Vincent (Starry Starry Night)’. Since first hitting the charts in 1971, Don has amassed over 40 gold and platinum records world-wide and, in 2004, was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. His songs have been recorded by artists from every musical genre, most notably Madonna’s No. 1 recording of ‘American Pie’ in 2000 and George Michael’s version of ‘The Grave’ in 2003, sung in protest at the Iraq War. Don McLean is immortalized as the subject of the Roberta Flack/The Fugees No. 1 hit, ‘ Killing Me Softly With His Song’. The author interviewed McLean at length about his childhood, the making of “American Pie” and his career as a singer, songwriter and performer. Says Jim Monaghan of WHDA radio, NJ: “…Alan Howard did a terrific job in not just sharing Don’s story, but revealing a personal side of Don rarely seen by the public.”

Thanks to Don McLean for putting the post-war, twentieth century experience to words and music and singing it all with a voice that transports us to a better place. I want to thank him for sharing his story.

Thanks to Fred Hellerman, Erik Darling, Pete Murphy, Pete Childs, Rob Stoner, Ed Freeman, Jerry Corbitt, Ed Begley Jr., Bob Dearborn, Joel Dorn, John Peters, Larry Butler, Gordon Stoker, Fred Snel, Chris Horsnell, John Platania, Tony Migliore, Ralph Childs, Jerry Kroon, Patrisha McLean, Dick Boak, Pat Severs, Garth Brooks, Ron Buck, Bob Gregg, Alan Young, and Bill Nisbet for allowing me to include their thoughts on Don McLean and his music.

Alan Howard

Reading, UK

6 thoughts on “The Don McLean Story”

  1. Hi, Don, I’m from Hongkong. The first time I went to see you perform live was when I was 18. It was the first time you came here. I was mesmerized by the magic of your music. I felt that night when you were singing you noticed someone in the audience singing along with you like everyone else, and I felt you were talking to me. I suppose your songs have a way of getting into people’s minds as if you were talking straight to them. I never forgot that feeling. When you came again, I saw you perform too. Your songs touched me just the same. Although it’s been a very long while since I have heard anything about you on our side of the world, recently I’m catching up on your moves over the years. I found you are a wonderful guy, just like my first impression of you from way back when. I’m sure I will always keep you in a special place in my heart.

  2. Fabulous show in Sacramento on 2/23. We thoroughly enjoyed every second of the performance. Songs that touch the heart. Thank you Don and band!

  3. In the world of modern music, there are a few songs which rise far above the norm. The skill of the artist in painting a lyrical picture is done in such an efficient and powerful manner, along with incredible music accompaniment, makes the song an icon of the genre. Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and Mark Knopfler’s “Prarie Wedding” come to mind.

    And Don McLean has two examples in “Pie” and “Vincent.”

    Thank God for your talents as I thank him for letting me enjoy them. Imagine the music to come…

  4. Dear Don McLean and Family! I bought your album from KVIE, Channel 6, a few months ago. I was so impressed with your Voice, Songs and Life story I had to sub scribe and get your DVD, I did write a long letter {Which I have misplaced} To tell you Many things! I will send it when it reappears! I am so happy you met Patrisha and have two lovely Children. I love the way you train your horses, or they train themselves. I grew up in Santa Barbara, ca. My Mother and my aunts played Martin guitars and also mandolins! Thanks for listening to me and I Love your music! When I find my first draft of letter I will see if I should send it. My husband has been gone for 9 years now. He was a CO during the war and did alternative service. I really appreciate your convictions and such an amazing talent and so many songs you have written!! Best wishes! Sincerely, Betty Sesser. { I am 82 yrs old now!}

  5. My first reaction to this book was that maybe it wasn’t sown together as neatly as it could have been. But the more I thought about it the more I realized it was sown as well as it could be!

    I was asking that a quilt of 1 color be made out of 5,000 patches of different colors – no chance of that!

    Don Mclean’s life is too unique and his accomplishments reach far too deeply inside of people for any kind of neat summation.

    The fact is that Alan did an outstanding job. The book is very readable. And what’s more – its re-readable.

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