“American Pie” singer Don McLean was set to receive a lifetime achievement award from UCLA, but it was withdrawn hours later when the presenters learned that McLean had pleaded guilty to domestic violence charges in 2016, according to multiple reports.
McLean was supposed to receive the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement award on May 17, according to WABX. Created in 1988, the award is in the spirit of the sibling duo George and Ira Gershwin, and is an annual award for an artist or artists who have made musical contributions with lasting impact, according to the report.
McLean was excited about the prospect of the award and told WABX, “I am such a great lover and admirer of the work of the Gershwin’s that to receive this award is a thrill.”
However, a few hours after the initial statement, Student Alumni Association of UCLA announced they were rescinding the award.
“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,” Tod M. Tamberg, senior executive director of UCLA Strategic Communications Media Relations, said in a statement obtained by the Portland Press Herald.
“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,” Tamberg added in the statement.
McLean responded in a statement on Facebook directed at UCLA.
“Dear UCLA, 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,” he wrote in the statement. “Are you people morons? This is settled law.”
He then mentioned the recent nationwide college bribery college scam.
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
In January 2016, McLean was arrested and charged at his home in Camden, Maine with misdemeanor domestic violence, according to BBC.
Eventually, McLean pleaded guilty to avoid jail time. However, the case was dismissed after he met the terms of a plea deal, which included a $3,660 fine as part of the agreement, according to the Portland Press Herald.
His now ex-wife, Patrisha McLean, was granted a temporary order of protection against him after she accused her husband of having “a violent temper” and physically and verbally abusing her for over three decades, according to ABC News.
At the time, she wrote in a statement as part of the protection order, “For the first 10 years or so his rage was unfathomably deep and very scary.” She added, “On Jan. 17, Don terrorized me for 4 hours until the 911 call that I think might have saved my life.”
However, McLean’s lawyer claimed that the singer-songwriter only pleaded guilty “not because he was in fact guilty of anything, but to provide closure for his family and keep the whole process as private as possible.”
After news of the award being rescinded, McLean’s publicist, Jeremy Westby, responded and said the decision 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,” according to a statement to UCLA he forwarded to the Portland Press Herald.