Brian Rasic/WireImageToday marks a milestone in rock and roll history that affected millions of fans, none more so than Don McLean.

On February 3, 1959, a small plane crash in Iowa took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. McLean memorialized the event in his 1971 single “American Pie,” a smash hit that was later named the fifth greatest song of the 20th century by the Recording Industry of America.

Reflecting on what he famously called “the day the music died,” McLean says, “Buddy Holly was only 22 years old when he died…By that time, he had recorded something like 60 sides and every one of them was a hit song and most were hit records. Even the Beatles cannot compare to the magnitude of this contribution. The music he made, he invented himself with very little help from others.”

One of McLean’s four handwritten copies of the “American Pie” lyrics was recently put up for auction. A remastered version of the single has also been reissued on vinyl in celebration of its 45th anniversary.

McLean has live appearances spread throughout the coming months, beginning February 24 in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Don McLean Tour Dates:

2/24 — Cocoa Beach, FL, Cocoa Beach Seafood & Music Festival
2/25 — Beverly Hills, CA, Saban Theatre
3/3 — Shipshewana, IN, Blue Gate Theater
3/17 — Bow, WA, Skagit Valley Casino Resort
4/6 — New York, NY, B.B. King’s Blues Club
4/7 — Alexandria, VA, The Birchmere Music Hall
4/8 — Winston-Salem, NC, Reynolds Auditorium
5/5 — Chicago, IL, City Winery
6/15 — Del Mar, CA, San Diego County Fair
6/17 — Cabazon, CA, Morongo Casino Resort & Spa
9/16 — Rocky Mount, VA, Harvester Performance Center