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Don McLean


Thu 24 Feb 2011, 8:00pm–10:30pm

Where: Aotea Centre, 50 Mayoral Dr, CBD, Auckland

Restrictions: All Ages

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Listed by: sandra roberts

One of America’s most enduring songwriters Don McLean – legendary for such hits as American Pie, Vincent and Castles in the Air – announces a tour of New Zealand in February.

This Grammy Award artist -- having amassed over 40 gold and platinum records world-wide and inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame in 2004 -- will perform in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland in three not-to-missed concerts.

Tickets to these special events on February 21, 23 and 24 will go on sale on Monday, December 6. Fans are urged to be quick.

“One of America’s most enduring songwriters”

Don McLean began his folk music career performing in free concerts on behalf of Pete Seeger's efforts to clean up the Hudson River. His first album "Tapestry" in 1970 had been turned down by several labels because of his insistence on retaining his own publishing. One of the songs from this album, "And I Love You So" was covered by Perry Como becoming a Top 30 hit in 1973, while Don’s performance of another, "Empty Chairs" inspired fellow folk songwriter Lori Leiberman to write "Killing Me Softly With His Song" that became a huge Grammy winning hit for Roberta Flack in 1973.

His second album "American Pie" released in 1971 included the 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, produced as a two-sided single, was No.1 in the charts for seven weeks. In 2001 “American Pie” was voted No.5 in a poll of the 365 songs of the century compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America. Both "Vincent" and "Castles In The Air" from the same album became Top 20 hits in the US, with "Vincent" charting No.1 in the UK. The song was played daily in the entrance to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam.

Don’s self-titled third album, "Don McLean" was released in 1972 reaching No.23 in the charts and included the hit "Dreidel". It was followed by the "Playin' Favorites" album released in 1973 and "Homeless Brother" released in 1974, which included "The Legend of Andrew McCrew", a true story about a black hobo who died aged 13, was exhibited in carnivals as a 'petrified man', not buried until '73. Three more albums following between 1974 and 1980 when Don had a worldwide No.1 hit with a cover of a Roy Orbison song, "Crying".

Don McLean’s songs have been recorded by artists from every musical genre, most notably Madonna's No.1 recording of "American Pie" in 2000. Weird Al Yankovic later re-wrote the song as "The Saga Begins" to send-up "Star Wars". It is said that some people were surprised that Don allowed Yankovic's record, as though he didn't have a sense of humour; in fact a cultural artefact can only be used for this kind of affectionate satire if it is deeply loved in the first place. George Michael's version of "The Grave" in 2003, was sung in protest at the Iraq War.

In 2007, Don McLean shared his life story in Alan Howard's biography, "The Don McLean Story: Killing Us Softly With His Songs".

'...a great live performer, and his concerts have a certain homespun appeal....'

Opening for McLean for all 11 dates of his tour through Australian and New Zealand will be award-winning Kiwi singer-songwriter, Donna Dean with her mesmerizing voice (often compared with Annie Lennox, Dusty Springfield and Fleetwood Mac’s, Christie McVie) and unique blend of Americana roots music. She grew up in Auckland listening to a mix of traditional American folk music, the music of the Carter family, Jimmy Rodgers, Gene Autry and the like, influences that are all reflected in her thought-provoking songs. She started writing songs around the age of 11.

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