Don McLean is marking a special musical milestone as he celebrates his iconic hit song, American Pie, going number one on the Billboard Hot 100 fifty years ago!
Half a century later, and the tune is still one of the most beloved songs of all time.
"Really it comes down to my life, because my life is so intertwined with this song. So it's all been very positive," McLean said.
The song, which was released on McLean's 1971 album American Pie, became an instant hit. Its profound impact can be seen by its unwavering popularity across generations both young and old. The song was originally inspired by the tragic plane crash that took the lives of young rock and roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valen, and The Big Bopper in 1959.
The lyrics "the day the music died" have since been widely used to refer to the tragedy, which marked the end of an early rock and roll era.
McLean, who has often declined to explain the symbolism and lyrics in the emblematic song, spoke about its inspiration and paying homage to his musical idol Billy Holly, who died when McLean was just 13-years-old.
"It's the love of Buddy Holly, which I kept with me from the day I discovered he died. I love Buddy Holly like crazy."
American Pie not only mourns the loss of the young musician, but it tells a bigger picture of cultural change and disillusionment in America at the time. The nostalgic song is also one of the most highly debated and interpreted in music history.
In 1972, American Pie set the record for the longest song to hold the top spot on the Billboard chart at 8:42. McLean held that record for almost 50 years until he was dethroned by Taylor Swift in 2021 with the extended version of All Too Well which, clocks in at 10:13.
McLean praised the singer, who sent flowers and a kind note to the musical legend after breaking his record.
"She's a power house and I'm really happy that we have an artist like her around, because she's very very successful, she's very productive, she's a classy lady."
Don McLean has just kicked off his 50th anniversary American Pie tour in North America. For more information on tickets and dates, visit DonMcLean.com.
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