Don McLean’s Gershwin Award Revoked Due to 2016 Domestic Violence Incident
On Friday (May 3), singer-songwriter Don McLean was announced as the 2019 recipient of the George and Ira Gershwin Award, given by the UCLA Student Alumni Association in recognition of a lifetime of musical achievement. However, the honor has been revoked, due to a domestic violence incident McLean was involved in in 2016.
According to the Portland Press Herald, a spokesperson for the UCLA Student Alumni Association replied to the paper's inquiry about McLean's award with a note that the organization had "rescinded its decision."
"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,” says Tod M. Tamberg, senior executive director of strategic communications media relations for UCLA. “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."
On Jan. 18, 2016, police were called to McLean's home in Camden, Maine, where his now-ex-wife Patrisha claims he held her hostage and inflicted harm on her. McLean has maintained his innocence from the beginning but pleaded guilty to six domestic violence charges and was convicted of three of them in a plea deal that deferred the charges if he complied with all conditions outlined in the deal. In 2017, he paid a fine of $3,660 to end the year-and-a-half-long case.
According to the Portland Press Herald, McLean's publicist calls the decision to revoke McLean's award "publicly disrespectful and grossly humiliating." He adds, "I am incredibly surprised and disappointed that an institution such as UCLA, having had adequate time to vet all potential award recipients, would so easily and negligently overlook something as public as what has happened to Mr. McLean and his family three years ago."
On his Facebook page, McLean posted an angry statement about the ordeal, calling the 2016 incident a "squabble" and those who awarded him the George and Ira Gershwin Award "morons."
"Maybe I need to give you some bribe money to grease the college wheels," he continues. "Don’t ever come near me again unless you offer me an apology for the damage you have done me. I am guilty of nothing to do with assault and you had better make that clear."
After releasing his debut album, Tapestry, in 1970, Don McLean scored the biggest hit of his career with “American Pie” one year later. In 1980, he earned a Top 10 hit on the country charts with “Crying,” originally recorded by Roy Orbison, from his Chain Lightning album; he also covered Hank Williams‘ “Your Cheatin’ Heart” on Chain Lightning. McLean and his wife had been married since 1987 and have two children.
The UCLA Student Alumni Association's George and Ira Gershwin Award was established in 1988, in recognition of the brothers' musical contributions and a gift they made to UCLA.
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