Singer-songwriter Jackie McLean says it's difficult to escape the shadow of father Don McLean's fame—and it's all the more complicated because their personal relationship has been very troubled. She tells Rolling Stone that the "American Pie" singer mentally and emotionally abused her when she was growing up. She says McLean, now 75, was extremely controlling and there was a "constant state of fear in the house" that something might make him fly into a rage. She describes family life as a cult-like situation with McLean completely in charge. She says he kept her isolated from other children—and was furious when she started dating a Black man after graduating from high school. She says her father would call her at college to rant about "how it was not OK that I was dating a Black person, how it was disgusting of me and how I was ruining the family by doing it."
Don McLean tells Rolling Stone that he doesn't "understand what mental and emotional abuse is." He says he is stunned by the allegations because he grew up in a physically abusive household and never wanted Jackie or her brother to feel the same way. He does admit yelling at his children, saying, "I would snap sometimes; I did have a temper." Pat McLean, Jackie's mother, divorced him after a domestic violence incident in 2016. Jackie McLean, 31, has two children with Shawn Strack, her husband and musical partner in Roan Yellowthorn. She says she has not spoken to her father since last July. She showed Rolling Stone email exchanges in which he complained she had not publicly supported him after criticisms from her mother. "If you ever say anything negative about me on social media or anywhere again, our relationship will officially terminate and you will be written out if [sic] my will," he wrote in a 2019 exchange. (Read more Don McLean stories.)