Don McLean's American Pie manuscript sells for $1.2M US at auction

Handwritten manuscript and notes by American folk rocker Don McLean for his 1971 anthem American Pie sold for $1.2 million US at a Christie's auction Tuesday in New York.

16 pages include the original working manuscript and typed drafts of the song

Don McLean's American Pie manuscript fetches $1.2M US


6 years ago
CBC's Eli Glasner looks at the elusive musician's million dollar lyrics 1:26

Singer-songwriter Don McLean's original manuscript and notes to American Pie sold at auction Tuesday for $1.2 million.

McLean offered his wistful anthem that asks "Do you recall what was revealed the day the music died?" at Christie's.

The auction house said two people vied for the 16-page manuscript, one in the room and one on the phone. The winning bid went to the collector in the room who wished to remain anonymous.

Bidding started at $500,000 and rose to $1.2 million in just four minutes. (All figures are in US dollars.)

The 16 pages include the original working manuscript and typed drafts of the song. The eight-minute-long American Pie was released in 1971 and was a No. 1 U.S. hit for four weeks in 1972.

"The day the music died" refers to the Feb. 3, 1959, deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper in a plane crash.

McLean, a longtime Maine resident, said through Christie's that writing the song was "a mystical trip into his past."

American folk-pop singer Don McLean topped the charts for four weeks in 1972 with his song American Pie. (Central Press/Getty Images)
According to local lore in upstate Saratoga Springs, McLean first wrote the lyrics on paper napkins in a bar where he used to drink in between gigs at Caffe Lena, a famous coffeehouse in the city known for its racetrack and mineral waters.

A small plaque on the wall of the Tin & Lint bar reads: "American Pie written by Don McLean, summer 1970."

McLean has denied the popular legend, telling a local newspaper in a 2011 interview that he wrote the song with the famous line "Bye, bye Miss American Pie" in Philadelphia.

American Pie has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and was named a "song of the century" by the Recording Industry Association of American and the National Endowment for the Arts.

His other songs include Castles in the Air and And I Love You So.

The handwritten American Pie manuscript sold for $1.2 million US on April 7. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)


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