Now streaming on Paramount+ is The Day The Music Died: The Story Of Don McLean’s 'American Pie.' The film, which was directed by Mark Moormann and produced and spearheaded by music veteran, Spencer Proffer, features McLean throughout the film discussing both his artistic journey and the creation and life of the famed rock standard.
On January 15th, 1972, "American Pie" topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first week of its month-long run. The song is the origin of the term "the day the music died," about the February 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, but that's only a small part of what it's about.
Appearing in the film are Brian Wilson, Garth Brooks, "Weird Al" Yankovic, bassist Rob Stoner, and actor Peter Gallagher -- who voices the children's book Don McLean’s American Pie: A Fable. In one of the more memorable moments of the film, Ritchie Valens' sister Irma meets with Don McLean prior to his performance at Clear Lake, Iowa's Surf Ballroom while paying tribute to her brother, Buddy Holly, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson at the last venue they performed at before the tragic plane crash.
The Day The Music Died also spotlights how "American Pie" has crossed not only musical genres but entire cultures, with session footage of Maffio recording a new Spanish/English version of "American Pie."
Don McLean was a huge Buddy Holly fan growing up, and he was deeply moved by Holly's death, but says that it's merely the starting off point of what "American Pie" is about. Although Buddy Holly only plays a small role in the song's story, McLean is still proud that "American Pie" had a lot to do with the latter-day interest in Holly and his music.
More than just a song or a man, this film is about a cultural moment in America's history that has followed us from the 1970s. Featuring a new generation of artists, inspired by the same values & ideas that inspired Don McLean in writing American Pie -- one of the great musical touchstones of pop music and culture.
The story of "American Pie" has become the stuff of legend, with many believing it's almost a history of rock n' roll -- there are even web pages devoted to scrutinizing every line and word. Until the new doc, McLean himself has never revealed any true meanings behind the song, because he says that would spoil the fun: "Truly and honestly. I don't talk about the song because, it is supposed to be like a dream. And y'know how it is when you have a dream, a table can become a beautiful woman, or a window, you can suddenly see yourself looking out of it and then you're flying over the city, or something. You know what I mean? There is no explanation for a dream.")