Donald McLean III (born October 2, 1945) is an American singer-songwriter. He is best known for his 1971 song "American Pie", which was a number-one US hit for four weeks in 1972, and a hit for Madonna in 2000. McLean's other well-known songs include: "And I Love You So", sung by Elvis Presley and Glen Campbell, among others; "Vincent", a tribute to the 19th-century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh; and "Castles in the Air", which McLean recorded twice. In 2004, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Musical roots : McLean's grandfather and father, both also named Donald McLean, had roots originating in Scotland. The Buccis, the family of McLean's mother, Elizabeth, came from Abruzzo in central Italy. They left Italy and settled in Port Chester, New York, at the end of the 19th century. He has other extended family in Los Angeles and Boston. Though some of his early musical influences included Frank Sinatra and Buddy Holly, as a teenager, McLean became interested in folk music, particularly the Weavers' 1955 recording At Carnegie Hall. He often missed long periods of school due to childhood asthma, particularly music lessons, and although McLean slipped back in his studies, his love of music was allowed to flourish. By age 16, he had bought his first guitar and began making contacts in the music business, becoming friends with folk singers Erik Darling and Fred Hellerman of the Weavers. Hellerman said, "He called me one day and said, 'I'd like to come and visit you', and that's what he did! We became good friends - he has the most remarkable music memory of anyone I've ever known." When McLean was 15, his father died. Fulfilling his father's request, the singer graduated from Iona Preparatory School in 1963, and briefly attended Villanova University, dropping out after four months. After leaving Villanova, McLean became associated with famed folk music agent Harold Leventhal for several months before teaming up with personal manager Herb Gart for 18 years. For the next six years he performed at venues and events including The Bitter End and Gaslight Cafe in New York, the Newport Folk Festival, the Cellar Door in Washington, D.C., and the Troubadour in Los Angeles. He attended night school at Iona College and received a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1968. He turned down a scholarship to Columbia University Graduate School in favor of pursuing a career as a singer/songwriter, performing at such venues as Caffè Lena in Saratoga Springs, New York, and The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Later that year, with the help of a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, McLean began reaching a wider audience, with visits to towns up and down the Hudson River. He learned the art of performing from his friend and mentor Pete Seeger. McLean accompanied Seeger on his Clearwater boat trip up the Hudson River in 1969 to raise awareness about environmental pollution in the river. During this time McLean wrote songs that would appear on his first album, Tapestry. McLean co-edited the book Songs and Sketches of the First Clearwater Crew with sketches by Thomas B. Allen for which Pete Seeger wrote the foreword. Seeger and McLean sang "Shenandoah" on the 1974 Clearwater album.