Singer-songwriter Don McLean has withdrawn from performing at a National Rifle Association annual meeting in Houston this weekend after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school Tuesday.
“In light of the recent events in Texas, I have decided it would be disrespectful and hurtful for me to perform for the NRA at their convention in Houston this week,” he said in a statement. “I’m sure all the folks planning to attend this event are shocked and sickened by these events as well. After all, we are all Americans. I share the sorrow for this terrible, cruel loss with the rest of the nation.”
A representative of 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 alongside 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 U.S.A” has become a conservative anthem and is played regularly at Republican events, including rallies hosted 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 linked to conservative causes.
However, several people on social media Wednesday called on the singer to drop out of the performance given 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 very 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 were murdered in Texas, I will burn my CDs and music books.”
@donmclean has been one of my very 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 were murdered in Texas, I will burn my CDs and music books.
— Thomas M. Countryman (@TMCountryman) May 25, 2022
Chris Willman, senior music writer and chief music critic at Variety, posted a flyer with concert lineup and wrote, sarcastically, “Perfectly in fitting with Don McLean’s reputation as the nicest guy in rock and roll.”
Perfectly in fitting with Don McLean’s reputation as the nicest guy in rock and roll pic.twitter.com/B7ZcFlP2gK
— Chris Willman (@ChrisWillman) May 25, 2022
McLean was arrested in 2016 for domestic violence against his then-wife, Patrisha McLean, at their home in Camden. 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 emotionally abused her for years. She said she was terrified of her father while growing up in the family’s secluded home in Camden.
Don McLean has denied those allegations and said he has disinherited her.
The public accusations have not upended McLean’s career. He has continued to tour and make appearances, particularly last year when his best-known song reached the 50-year milestone. More recently, McLean partnered 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 hurt his career. She has spoken out about his treatment of her publicly and has been an advocate for domestic violence victims in general. She declined to comment Wednesday on her ex-husband’s original decision to perform at the NRA meeting or his decision to withdraw.