Don McLean - vocals, acoustic guitar, banjo
Don McLean earned his place in the rock 'n' roll pantheon in 1971, when he released his first album on United Artists and delivered a legendary single called "American Pie." And while that eight minute #1 pop hit condensed the history of popular music into one infectious sing-along, there was a downside to its success. Despite the awesome popularity of the tune, it overshadowed everything else that McLean tried to do for many years afterwards. Though McLean had other Top 10 hits such as "Vincent," "Driedel," and "And I Love Her So," (which he initially wrote for the late Perry Como), it was "American Pie," that seemed to be all anyone wanted to hear him perform.
For a while, McLean distanced himself from the song and even stopped performing it. However, by the time this show was recorded at New York's Bottom Line in February of 1977, he had signed a new deal with Clive Davis and Arista Records, and was about to release a new album, Prime Time. Accompanied with only an acoustic guitar, McLean conversed at length with his audience during this show, and built an entire stage bit around an annoying fly that had been buzzing around his head while he was performing.
Opening with his version of Bukka White's "Where Were You Baby When My Heart Went Out," McLean weaves his way through a number of new songs, odd covers, and classic McLean hits for this show first aired on the King Biscuit Flower Hour. He dons a banjo to play a few up-tempo bluegrass tracks including "Muleskinner Blues" and "Careless Love." "American Pie" shows up fairly early in the set. No longer the cornerstone showcase song in his live repertoire, it still gets the most applause before he heads back into more contemporary material. He does revisit some of his other, older hits, blasting back for an encore of "Dreidel" and "Vincent." He closes with the final song Buddy Holly recorded (written by Paul Anka) before his death in a plane crash in 1959: "It Doesn't Matter Anymore (Buddy Holly)."