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Don McLean is a talented singer-songwriter who began in folk music, performing free on behalf of Pete Seeger’s efforts to clean up the Hudson River. His first album had been turned down by several labels because of his insistence on retaining his own publishing, but Tapestry ’70 was issued on Media Arts, soon taken over by UA; of the songs “And I Love You So” was covered by Perry Como for a Top 30 hit ’73, while his performance of “Empty Chairs” inspired “Killing Me Softly With His Song” (written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox) a Grammy winner and a huge hit for Roberta Flack ’73.
Second album American Pie ’71 incl. irresistibly catchy title track, said to have been inspired by the death of Buddy Holly, but also a sentimental song about America that could be embraced by everybody as the USA reeled from Vietnam and Watergate: the 8.5 minute track as a two-sided single was no.1 for seven weeks and even pulled the first LP into the charts. “Vincent/Castles In The Air” from the same LP was a no. 12 hit and “Vincent” (no.1 in theUK) was being played daily in the entrance to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam.