The American Pie album by Don McLean was released on October 13, 1971. The title cut from the album made its chart debut on November 27th. Seven weeks later, it was number one and remained at the top for four weeks.

In a 1972 interview with Life magazine, Don McLean said “I can’t necessarily interpret American Pie any better than you can.” But he did say that Buddy Holly was the first and last person he ever really idolized as a kid.

American Pie was about the day the music died, February 3, 1959 — the day Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. Richardson (the Big Bopper) were killed in a plane crash.

At over 8 minutes, the song was too long to fit onto one side of a single. It was divided into 2 parts for the 45 release. However, since American Pie was such a powerful song, most radio stations played the complete version.