Donald “Don” McLean III (born October 2, 1945) is an American singer-songwriter best known for the 1971 album American Pie, containing the songs “American Pie” and “Vincent”.
McLean’s grandfather and father were also named Donald McLean. The Buccis, the family of McLean’s mother, Elizabeth, came from Abruzzo in central Italy. They left Italy and settled in Port Chester, New York, at the end of the 19th century. He has other extended family in Los Angeles and Boston.
Though some of his early musical influences included Frank Sinatra and Buddy Holly, as a teenager, McLean became interested in folk music, particularly the Weavers’ 1955 recording At Carnegie Hall. Childhood asthma meant that McLean missed long periods of school, particularly music lessons, and although he slipped back in his studies, his love of music was allowed to flourish. He often performed shows for family and friends. By age 16 he had bought his first guitar (a Harmony acoustic archtop with a sunburst finish) and began making contacts in the music business, becoming friends with folk singers Erik Darling and Fred Hellerman, both members of the Weavers.
Hellerman said, “He called me one day and said, ‘I’d like to come and visit you’, and that’s what he did! We became good friends – he has the most remarkable music memory of anyone I’ve ever known.”McLean recorded his first studio sessions (with singer Lisa Kindred) while still in prep school.