Don McLean (born October 2, 1945 in New Rochelle, New York) is an American singer-songwriter, most famous for his 1971 song "American Pie", released from the album of the same name, about the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry (J.P.) (Jape) Richardson, Jr.). The song, an international number one single, spawned the phrase "The Day the Music Died," referring to the day of the crash . It was later listed as the No. 5 song on the RIAA project 'Songs of the Century'.
Early in his career, McLean was mentored by the folk legend Pete Seeger, and he accompanied Seeger on his Clearwater boat up the Hudson River in 1969 to protest at environmental pollution in the river. The Clearwater campaign was widely credited for improving water quality in the Hudson River.
In 1980, McLean had an international number one hit with the Roy Orbison classic, "Crying." Only following the record's success overseas was it released in the U.S., becoming a top-ten hit in 1981. Orbison himself once described McLean as "the voice of the century," and a subsequent re-recording of the song saw Orbison incorporate elements of McLean's version.
In 1991, McLean returned to the U.K. top ten with a re-issue of "American Pie," which nine years later became a worldwide smash all over again thanks to Madonna's controversial cover.