Jackie McLean, the daughter of “American Pie” songwriter Don McLean, accused her father of emotional and mental abuse in a searing interview with Rolling Stone magazine published online Wednesday, saying she was terrified of her father growing up in the family’s secluded home in Camden.

In the interview, McLean, 31 and living in New York, said she feared for her safety at home in Maine and still suffers emotionally from her memories. “If I talk about my experiences, my teeth chatter and I get cold and sweaty even if I hear his name,” she told Rolling Stone.

Through her publicist, Jackie McLean declined an interview with the Press Herald, saying she preferred not to offer any additional comments about the situation. Jackie McLean is a singer-songwriter and performs as part of the indie-pop duo Roan Yellowthorn. Many of the songs on the band’s just released second album, “Another Life,” address what she describes as her father’s “psychological warfare.”

In the same Rolling Stone story, Don McLean denied abusing his daughter, telling the magazine: “There would never be any paralyzing attacks ’cause her mother was always around. I would never attack her anyway; I would never attack anybody. If I yelled at you for five minutes you’d think I yelled at you for an hour because it’s shocking. I would snap sometimes; I do have a temper.”

Patrisha McLean divorced Don McLean in 2016 after an incident in their home that January. She called 911, and Don McLean was arrested for suspicion of domestic violence and faced six charges, including domestic violence and assault. He later pleaded guilty to four charges and paid a fine, with the domestic assault charges dismissed after a year. Through his lawyer, he later said he pleaded not guilty to provide closure to his family.

The interview with Rolling Stone was published one day after Backbeat Books said it had nixed the planned September publication of a children’s book “American Pie: A Fable,” based on McLean’s iconic song, because of McLean’s “history.” In an email to the Press Herald, a publicist for Backbeat Books said, “You may or may not be happy to know, Backbeat Books has cancelled our publication of ‘American Pie’ by Don McLean. Our editor was unaware of McLean’s history when the book was signed,” wrote Marketing Manager Emily Cable.


Don McLean performing during the Stars and Stripes Spectacular 4th of July celebration on Portland’s Eastern Promenade in 2013. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

On Wednesday, Don McLean’s publicist said the singer had little involvement in the book, which was a licensed project. “Don McLean is not the author of the book and did not create the artwork,” Jeremy Westby, president and chief executive officer of 2911 Enterprises Inc., wrote in an email. “Two wonderful women did all the heavy lifting to make this children’s book come to life. Mr. McLean continues to license his songs, name, and trademarks to individuals, brands, and corporations, whether he is personally involved in the project or not.”

When the book was announced, Don McLean touted the project. “I am really excited to see the reaction from people about this book,” he said in a statement in May. “We have all read many children’s books to our kids and I am hoping this one stands up to the greatness of others we have put our kids to sleep with.”

In her interview with Rolling Stone, Jackie McLean said her earliest memories of emotional abuse began when she was 2. “My dad couldn’t find a key to a piece of furniture and he thought that I hid it and he was just screaming in my face,” she told the magazine. “I couldn’t leave, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t say anything. I didn’t know where the key was and I was just trapped in that moment having to endure the fear and the trauma until it ended. That was just a normal kind of thing that there would be screaming and yelling. … You’re conditioned to feel like he has power over you. … I really felt like he was some sort of God. So, it’s not just that I’m worried that he’s gonna yell at me. It’s like he has … enough power over my life that if he’s angry at me he can do anything to ruin my life.”

McLean said her father did not support her decision to pursue music and disapproved of having a Black boyfriend. Don McLean denied both accusations, and said he acted as a protective father. “I don’t care what color he was,” he told Rolling Stone.

Beyond issuing the statement about the book, Westby did not respond to a request to interview McLean.

Meanwhile, Patrisha McLean continues her campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence and reform legal processes to hold abusers more accountable. Through her organization Finding Our Voices, she has organized a citywide art exhibition in Belfast through the end of June. More than 60 artists contributed a variety of artwork for display, including, paintings, photos and poetry. The display also includes photographs and stories from 32 domestic abuse survivors from Maine.

In an interview, Patrisha McLean chose to focus on her current and future work helping women, and not on the past.

“Love is stronger than hate. Domestic violence is all about hate, and misogyny is at the root of it. We are coming at this with love. Our work is all about love,” she said.

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