American Pie – Don MacLean

THIS DAY IN MUSIC…………………………………on January 3rd of 1972 Don McLean received a Gold record for his single “American Pie”, which reached #1 in the US and #2 in the UK, selling over three million copies. According to McLean (as posted on his website), this song was originally inspired by the death of Buddy Holly. “The Day The Music Died” is February 3, 1959, when Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash after a concert. McLean wrote the song from his memories of the event (“Dedicated to Buddy Holly” was printed on the back of the album cover). McLean was a 13-year-old paperboy in New Rochelle, New York when Holly died. He learned about the plane crash when he cut into his stack of papers and saw the lead story. Contrary to rumors, the plane that crashed was not named the “American Pie” – Dwyer’s Flying Service did not name their planes. McLean made up the name. At 8 minutes 32 seconds, this is the longest song in length to hit #1 on the Hot 100. The single was split in two parts because the 45 did not have enough room for the whole song on one side. The A-side ran 4:11 and the B-side was 4:31 – you had to flip the record in the middle to hear all of it. In 1971, a singer named Lori Lieberman saw McLean perform this at the Troubadour theater in Los Angeles. She claimed that she was so moved by the concert that her experience became the basis for her song “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” which was a huge hit for Roberta Flack in 1973. This song did a great deal to revive interest in Buddy Holly. Says McLean: “By 1964, you didn’t hear anything about Buddy Holly. He was completely forgotten. But I didn’t forget him, and I think this song helped make people aware that Buddy’s legitimate musical contribution had been overlooked. When I first heard ‘American Pie’ on the radio, I was playing a gig somewhere, and it was immediately followed by ‘Peggy Sue.’ They caught right on to the Holly connection, and that made me very happy. I realized that it was actually gonna perform some good works.”