McLean wrote this and released it on his American Pie album in 1971. It topped the US charts in early 1972 and reached No 2 in Britain.
A reader in Northern Ireland has sent me this anecdote: ‘In the 60s Belfast was on the tour so they all came – Stones, Beatles, Bee Gees, Jimi Hendrix etc etc. The Troubles stopped it and for a decade only Don McLean came – he played at Queens Uni around 72 – the height of the Troubles – the audience spontaneously stood up as he came on stage and started singing American Pie – he burst into tears and promised to return every year – and he did throughout the terrible bombing campaign Belfast endured in the 70s.’
Here is a live performance from 1972.