Don McLean stops performing at NRA convention

Don McLean performs at the Stars and Stripes Spectacular 4th of July celebration on Portland’s Eastern Promenade in 2013. Derek Davis/staff photographer

Singer-songwriter Don McLean has withdrawn from performing at an annual National Rifle Association meeting in Houston this weekend after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday.

“In light of recent events in Texas, I have decided it would be disrespectful and hurtful to me to perform for the NRA at their convention in Houston this week,” he said in a statement. “I am sure that all the people who are planning to attend this event are also shocked and sickened by these events. After all, we are all Americans. I share the grief of this terrible, cruel loss with the rest of the nation.”

A representative for McLean sent the statement to the Press Herald Wednesday afternoon in response to questions sent earlier in the day about the Camden resident’s participation in the event.

McLean is listed along with several other musicians for the NRA’s Grand Ole Night of Freedom concert on Saturday at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Also included in the lineup are country artists Danielle Peck, T. Graham Brown, Larry Gatlin, Larry Stewart, Jacob Bryant and Lee Greenwood, whose song “God Bless the USA” has become a conservative anthem and is played regularly at Republican events, including demonstrations organized by former President Donald Trump.

Like Greenwood, McLean is best known for one song, the iconic and lengthy 1971 hit “American Pie.” Unlike Greenwood, McLean has not been associated with conservative causes.

However, several people on social media called on the singer on Wednesday to stop performing because of Tuesday’s massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Thomas Countryman, a former State Department official, posted on Twitter: “@donmclean has been one of my favorite artists for 50 years and I was planning to attend his next concert. But if, as reported, he plays at the NRA convention this weekend, after 20 people have been killed in Texas, I will burn my CDs and music books.”

Chris Willman, senior music writer and chief music critic at Variety, posted a concert arrangement flyer, writing sarcastically, “Perfectly befitting Don McLean’s reputation as the nicest man in rock and roll.”

McLean was arrested in 2016 for domestic violence against his then-wife, Patrisha McLean, at their Camden home. McLean eventually pleaded guilty to some charges while others were dropped.

Their daughter, Jackie McLean, who performs as part of the indie pop duo Roan Yellowthorn, told Rolling Stone last year that her father had emotionally abused her for years. She said she was terrified of her father growing up in the family’s secluded home in Camden.

Don McLean has denied those allegations, saying he disinherited her.

The public accusations have not turned McLean’s career upside down. He has continued to tour and perform, especially last year when his most famous song reached the 50th anniversary. More recently, McLean teamed up with the World Boxing Council and heavyweight champion Tyson Fury on a new version of “American Pie.”

Patrisha McLean has expressed disappointment that her ex-husband’s criminal record has not harmed his career. She has spoken out publicly about his treatment of her and has been an advocate for victims of domestic violence in general. She declined to comment Wednesday on her ex-husband’s original decision to act at the NRA meeting or his decision to pull out.

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