Don McLean Loses Award Hours After He Announced It
Don McLean announced he was going to be the recipient of a lifetime achievement award – only to have the award rescinded hours later.
The singer-songwriter said he was selected for the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement, which is presented annually by the Student Alumni Association of the University of California, Los Angeles. It was to be bestowed upon him in a ceremony on May 17.
However, on discovering that McLean, 73, had pleaded guilty to charges of domestic violence against his then-wife in 2016, the association withdrew the honor – a move the musician’s representative called “disrespectful.”
“The decision to rescind the award was made by SAA’s Spring Sing Executive Committee upon learning that Mr. McLean had previously been convicted of domestic violence charges,” a statement to the Press Herald read. “SAA rejects any behavior – including violence and the threat of violence in all its forms – that does not uphold the True Bruin Values. We extend our support to survivors of domestic violence."
In response, McLean’s publicist, Jeremy Westby, said it was “publicly disrespectful and grossly humiliating to Mr. McLean to issue and then rescind an award based on the supposition of any violent criminal history.”
He added the he was "incredibly surprised and disappointed that an institution such as UCLA, having had adequate time to vet all potential award recipients, would so easily and negligently overlook something as public as what has happened to Mr. McLean and his family three years ago.”
Westby provided supporting evidence from McLean’s lawyer, who reported that, in July 2017, the singer was convicted of three “minor criminal counts” but that he “was not convicted of assault or of using any force at all. ... Don McLean entered his pleas not because he was in fact guilty of anything, but to provide closure for his family and to keep the whole process as private as possible.”
McLean also issued his own pointed rebuke to UCLA on Facebook. "You awarded me your George and Ira Gershwin life time achievement award and then took it back because you found out about my squabble with my ex wife. This has been all over the internet for 3 years. Are you people morons? This is settled law. Maybe I need to give you some bribe money to grease the college wheels. Don’t ever come near me again unless you offer me an apology for the damage you have done me. I am guilty of nothing to do with assault and you had better make that clear. We live in a dark age of accusation and not law."
Following his arrest in January 2016, McLean said, “What is occurring is the very painful breakdown of an almost-30-year relationship. Our hearts are broken and we must carry on. There are no winners or losers but I am not a villain.”
He and his wife, who listed a series of alleged violent attacks against her, later divorced.