Don McLean, American Pie, Alex Trebek, Jeopardy

“Alex asked if I would come and sing for him and his Jeopardy family at his annual Christmas party last year. I was on his “bucket” list he told me. It was at a lovely Italian restaurant near his home. We planned a show and he apologized for his red complexion which he said the medication gave him. “I look like an Indian in a John Wayne movie,” Alex told me. It was a joyous and sad occasion and I was very touched that my music was that important to him. There was not the slightest hint of self-pity or weakness in this man. He was elegant and dignified as you saw him on television. Old school for sure and someone who we all can learn from. I thought of him often afterward and I’ll think of him in the future and maybe try to be a little more like him.”

This is the original email that Alex, himself, sent my office to see if I would be willing or interested in performing at his Christmas party.

-----Original Message-----

From: Alex Trebek
Sent: Wednesday, November 6, 2019 11:06 AM
Subject: don mclean

I am thinking of having a xmas party for the staff of Jeopardy on dec 18 and was wondering if don would be interested in performing at Vitellos restaurant in studio city ca. there would be about 150 people in attendance. is this even remotely possible. its been a longtime dream of mine. not sure i even have the budget but didn’t want to not give it a try. Please give me a call. thanks Alex Trebek, 818-505-XXXX

"Anyone who knew Alex would know what a stickler he was about timing. When I arrived at the restaurant, I told Alex what I was planning on performing and without hesitation, Alex pulled out a sheet of paper that he hand wrote my songs on with their lengths, in which, he wanted me to stick to. I, of course, obliged and told him it was his show and I would do whatever he wanted me to. I kept that setlist and here it is today!”

About Don McLean:

A New York native, Don McLean is one of the most revered and respected songwriters in American history. After paying his dues in the New York club scene in the late '60s, he went on to score mega-hits like "American Pie," "Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)," "Castles in the Air" and many more. In 2004, McLean was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame by country superstar Garth Brooks. "American Pie" has brought great happiness and hope to millions of people through the years and continues to be honored for its success. In 2000, the song was named one of the Top 5 Songs of the 20th Century by the RIAA and in 2002 was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. 2017 brought a huge honor when the iconic song was inducted into the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry, joining less than 500 works including "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," classical music compositions, famous live broadcasts, and similar recordings.

With over 40 gold and platinum records worldwide, his prowess for writing timeless songs is once again captured on Botanical Gardens, as he artfully weaves country, Americana, folk, and boot stomping rock for an eclectic, yet American sound that he is known for.

About Alex Trebek:

Alex Trebek was the host of Jeopardy! since the syndicated debut of America’s Favorite Quiz Show® in 1984. He has become one of television’s most enduring and iconic figures, engaging millions of viewers worldwide with his impeccable delivery of “answers and questions.”

In June 2020, Trebek won the Daytime Emmy® Award for Outstanding Game Show Host, bringing his total to seven; he also has a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He has been honored with a Guinness World Records® record for Most Game Show Episodes Hosted by the Same Presenter: he has hosted more than 8,000 episodes of Jeopardy! (and counting). In 2013, he was named a member of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, and in 2018, he and Jeopardy! were inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Trebek and Jeopardy! received a 2011 Peabody Award for “encouraging, celebrating and rewarding knowledge.”

"I think what makes Jeopardy! special is that, among all the quiz and game shows out there, ours tends to reward and encourage learning.

Born in Sudbury, Ontario, Trebek attended the University of Ottawa, where he earned a degree in philosophy. After university, Trebek worked for the CBC, covering national news and special events for radio and television. He made his American television debut in 1973 as the host of NBC’s game show “Wizard of Odds,” and after several other hosting roles, he became the host of Jeopardy!

In 2017, Trebek was named an officer of the Order of Canada, his native country’s second-highest civilian honor. He is one of the few celebrities to have been honored with a coveted star on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Canadian Walk of Fame.

Trebek has maintained strong ties to the University of Ottawa: he has created scholarships, sponsored a Lecture Series, and supported the construction of Alumni Hall, which, in May 2015, was named in his honor. He was conferred an honorary doctorate, and he received the Meritas Tabaret Award for Alumni Achievement, the top award bestowed upon University of Ottawa alumni. He is a long-time supporter of World Vision and has traveled to many third-world countries on behalf of that organization. In 2020, Trebek and his wife, Jean, made a joint donation to Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission in the San Fernando Valley.

Don McLean saddened by passing of Alex Trebek


Music icon Don McLean performed for Alex Trebek’s final Christmas party at the request of Alex Trebek. Don reflects on that time spent with Alex: