HomeEntertainment‘American Pie’ Singer Don McLean Says His Asthma Saved Him From Alcoholism

‘American Pie’ Singer Don McLean Says His Asthma Saved Him From Alcoholism

by Matthew Memrick
(Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Famous “American Pie” singer Don McLean recently said his asthma kept him out of school growing up, and it saved him from a life of alcoholism.

The singer recently opened up that he was no fan of the education system, claiming it steals creativity from children. McLean also added he would have struggled in another life and stuck at a bank or some mundane job being “a really boring person.”

The 76-year-old singer told The i newspaper that his asthma advantage kept him out of the classroom for long periods, and it helped him not be “programmed by the school system.”

According to his website biography, Don McLean’s asthma worked on music lessons with running, walking, and swimming. The extra work helped the star develop breath control and sing long phrases for his songs.

Maybe great minds think alike, right? Country star and philanthropist Dolly Parton told Playboy magazine once that she hated going to school, too.

McLean Credits Dad For His Music Career

However, Don McLean stuck with his school learning, thanks to his father’s request. 

When dad Donald McLean died, he made sure his son stuck with school for a little bit. The “American Pie” singer graduated from Iona Preparatory School in 1963 and tried Villanova University before dropping out after four months. 

By 1968, Don McLean got a business administration degree at Iona University by taking night classes.

Though saddened by the death, McLean said his father’s death created his path to music. Donald McLean did not think highly of musicians, the singer said. He looked down on them and did not want his son to get into that profession.

McLean said he soon realized he “could do anything I wanted without worrying about my father turning against me, which he certainly would have done.” 

The road to music success came naturally to McLean, however.

Don McLean met Jim Croce at Villanova and eventually would hook up folk singer Pete Seeger. The “American Pie” singer put together his first album in 1970. The singer named his first album “Tapestry.”

McLean Didn’t Have A Backup Plan If Singing Didn’t Work

After 72 rejections by different record companies, McLean’s debut album found a home with the Mediarts label. United Artists Records soon took over that company.

The confident singer told the newspaper that he “never thought about what would happen if I failed.” He admitted that he wouldn’t give up, saying there was zero probability he would quit.

His second album, “American Pie,” would make the star a household name in 1971. With its cultural references, that famous 8-and-a-half-minute folk-rock song touched many rock and roll fans.

In 2004, Don McLean reached legendary status with his induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.