The wife of Don McLean, the singer-songwriter best known for his 1971 hit “American Pie,” says he has a violent temper and was abusive during the early years of their three-decade marriage.
McLean, 70, was arrested by Camden police at his home on Hope Road early Monday and charged with domestic violence assault. He was taken to the Knox County Jail in Rockland.
On Tuesday, Patrisha McLean obtained a temporary protection-from-abuse order from Rockland District Court, which prohibits her husband from having contact with her.
“On Jan. 17, Don terrorized me for four hours until the 911 call that I think might have saved my life,” she wrote in a statement supporting her request for the restraining order. A hearing on her complaint is scheduled for Jan. 28 in Rockland District Court.
Thursday afternoon, after details of her statement had become public, Patrisha McLean called the Portland Press Herald and said she wants people to know that her husband is “not a monster.” She said her description of how her husband treated her on Jan. 17 is accurate, but that it is “one side of him.”
“I was blindsided by this report being made public. Don is not a monster,” said McLean, adding that she may have more to say later.
Don McLean issued a statement Thursday on his website that read, in part: “What is occurring is the very painful breakdown of an almost 30-year relationship. … There are no winners or losers, but I am not a villain.”
His lawyer, noted defense attorney Walter McKee, said his client will plead not guilty to the misdemeanor charge.
“Don was arrested based on his wife’s allegations alone. There are two sides to the story here, and at the right time Don’s side will be told,” McKee said. “Suffice to say he will make clear that he engaged in zero criminal behavior this past weekend.”
Don McLean is best known for “American Pie,” a classic folk-rock song recalling the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson, known as “The Big Bopper,” in a 1959 plane crash.
WIFE’S ACCOUNT OF ALLEGED ASSAULT
The temporary protection order requires McLean to surrender any firearms – although it does not indicate whether he has any – and any other weapons, including knives.
Patrisha McLean wrote in her request for the order that her husband was prone to rage during the first 10 years of their marriage and sometimes grabbed her legs or arms so hard that he caused bruises. She said that in 1994, McLean once squeezed his hands against her temples so hard that it felt like her head was in a vise.
She said his temper subsided over the past 20 years, because of the stability of family life, she believes. She said the alleged assault that began Sunday night was like the one in 1994, and that her head still hurt when she sought the protection order Tuesday.
“He was scaring me with the intensity of his rage and the craziness in his eyes,” she wrote of the incident. When she tried to leave, he grabbed her hard and said, ” ‘I want to strangle you so bad,’ ” she wrote in her statement.
Patrisha McLean grabbed her cellphone and ran to the bathroom, locking herself in.
“He tried to break open the door and I feel he would have succeeded and killed me but for me telling him I was calling 911, which did deflate him,” she wrote.
Police arrested McLean shortly before 2 a.m. Monday. He was released from jail after posting $10,000 unsecured bail and is scheduled to appear in Knox County Unified Court in Rockland on Feb. 22.
Don McLean’s statement Thursday said: “This last year and especially now have been hard emotional times for my wife, my children and me. … Our hearts are broken and we must carry on.
“I may never recover from this, but I will try and hope to continue to entertain you all as I always have,” he wrote on his website. “I ask God to give us the strength to find new happiness and I hope people will realize that this will all be resolved but I hope I will not be judged in this frantic media environment.”
mclean’s ATTORNEY DENIES CHARGES
McKee said he was hired to represent McLean on the assault charge and the protection-from-abuse case.
“Don vigorously denies all of these allegations. It is incredibly disturbing that his wife would take this extraordinary step of filing for a protection order, especially when there are already bail conditions that provide her with any protection she believes she needs,” McKee said.
He said his client’s bail conditions already prohibit him from having contact with his wife and he would face prosecution if he violated them.
Patrisha McLean’s statement in the protection order includes allegations that McLean denies and that are not germane to what occurred, McKee said.
“His wife’s statement talks about an event 22 years ago,” McKee said. “A complete investigation was conducted. No one was arrested. There were no charges. And she later acknowledged in writing her own severe anger issues.” McKee could not provide details about that case, and his description of the circumstances and result could not be corroborated.
“It is critically important that everyone reserve judgment until all sides can be heard,” McKee said. “Don is a fine citizen and representative of the United States around the world. He deserves the benefit of the doubt, to say the least.”
Patrisha McLean is a photographer whose work has been the focus of exhibits and books. Her latest book, “My Island,” was released last summer and features more than 100 black-and-white photographs of children from Maine islands.
The McLeans moved to Camden more than 20 years ago. Don McLean continues to record and tour around the world. He currently has 19 concerts scheduled in the United States and Australia from Wednesday to April 24.
No venues or promoters have announced the cancellation of any shows in the wake of McLean’s arrest and the surrounding publicity. As of Thursday afternoon, all 19 were still being advertised on the venues’ websites. His show Wednesday at City Winery in Chicago is sold out.
Other scheduled shows are in Texas and California, mostly at theaters or performing arts centers. His schedule includes nine performances in Australia.
Chuck Kruger of Entertainment Resources in Thomaston booked McLean to perform at last summer’s Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland. But Kruger said he probably wouldn’t book him for a family event like the lobster festival again, if the charges against him prove to be true.
Kruger, who knows the McLeans, called the events of this week “heartbreaking” and said domestic violence “can’t be tolerated.”
But as far as booking goes, whether a promoter would shy away from McLean probably depends on the prospective audience.
“I don’t think I would book him for a family festival, unless the charges aren’t true,” said Kruger, who is also a state representative from Thomaston. “If a private client wanted to book him, I would.”
Courier-Gazette reporter Juliette Laaka contributed to this report.
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:
Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: