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under the radar US singer Don McLean speaks about divorce and new relationship with model (28)

"Since I turned 70 a whole different thing happened. It's really nuts. I was under the radar for 30 years, which is how I like it, dignified, and then all hell broke loose."

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Don with girlfriend Paris Dylan

Don with girlfriend Paris Dylan

Don McLean

Don McLean

McLean during a live performance

McLean during a live performance

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Don with girlfriend Paris Dylan

FOR decades, American superstar singer Don McLean led a personal life out of the spotlight.

Then in 2016, McLean hit the headlines following an incident at his home, plus his divorce after nearly 30 years of marriage and a new relationship with a model, who is 48 years his junior.

When we meet in a luxury Dublin hotel on the day of his 76th birthday last Saturday, the American Pie songwriter brings up the subject himself at the start of our interview.

"Since I turned 70, I have become the 'tabloid boy'. There are all these stories and stuff they keep running, and they are fascinated with my divorce and with my relationship with my girlfriend," he tells me without a hint of annoyance.

"And all this stuff, it has made them crazy. Since I turned 70 a whole different thing happened. It's really nuts. I was under the radar for 30 years, which is how I like it, dignified, and then all hell broke loose."

In 2016, McLean's then wife, Patrisha, a former journalist who met him in 1987 after wrangling an interview with the star, called the police to their home amid a row.

He was later fined $3,000 (€2,600) for "criminal restraint and criminal mischief." A charge of domestic violence was dismissed. The couple divorced shortly afterwards.

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Don McLean

Don McLean

Don McLean

Patrisha McLean, who now runs a domestic violence organisation, Finding Our Voices, has said her husband was "deeply controlling" in the family.

Their singer-songwriter daughter, Jackie, also says she suffered "mental and emotional abuse" from her father and they are now estranged. His son, Wyatt, has made no comment.

When asked where he stands on the claims of his ex-wife and his daughter, McLean, whose new partner is 28-year-old American model Paris Dylan, tells the Sunday World: "Well, I'm a lover and a creator, I really am. And I've loved my life, I've loved my family. I've loved my girlfriend… I've loved a lot of people that I've tried to help. I have a foundation for helping people.

"I want to love and be creative. I'm not interested in anything in my past that is destructive and hateful. I just don't want to deal with it.

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"I can't help it if things turned out the way they did. I've moved on with my life and, if people are angry about it, I can't do anything about that."

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Don McLean's American Pie

Don McLean's American Pie

Don McLean's American Pie

The picture they portray of you as a controlling person in their lives, were you that man? "I don't talk about all of that," Don says, before going on to say: "I was the head of the household. I never punished my children. They never went to their room. I never hit anybody, ever. I was the head of the household, I wanted certain things to be done sometimes a certain way, but most of the time everybody could do whatever they wanted.

"I told both my children, 'you go to college, get your degree and you do whatever you want with your life. I'm not going to be hanging over your shoulder telling you what to do.'

"I was the least controlling person you could ever imagine. This is all part of a picture that is not accurate of me and that's all I can tell you."

Whenever he's asked what his biggest hit song, American Pie, means, McLean always replies: "It means I don't ever have to work again, unless I want to."

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McLean during a live performance

McLean during a live performance

McLean during a live performance

However, working, he tells me, is what he still lives for - and he's looking forward to playing Dublin's 3Arena on October 7, 2022.

"That's the reason I want to tour," Don says. "It's not the money, although I want to do as well as I can do, but it's to do it.

"It makes me feel good. I never got into drugs because my big drug is a sense of accomplishment when I do a good job on something, or make a good record, write a good song, or do a really good show, or I'm singing well. That is the best high in the world. So I've never got into trying to destroy myself, like most of them did."

Despite being a global music icon, McLean says he's never embraced celebrity.

"Well, fame is very destructive," he explains. "I think it has hurt a lot of relationships with me. Because I'm famous and people always want to talk about me, and people always want to ask questions about me, people around me think the only reason they are of any interest is that they're around me, so it's very destructive.

"I really did everything I could to always keep it at a minimum. I don't talk about myself, I don't play my records in the house…I didn't do any of that.

"I love my career and fame is good for putting people in auditoriums so you can continue to work. But it's this other part of it that I think is damaging. There's a hostility it builds up towards you because it's always about you all the time."

Tickets are now on sale for Don McLean at Dublin's 3Arena on October 7, 2022.

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