Singer/songwriter Don McLean recently revealed to Yahoo! Music that the West Forty Fourth Street Rhythm and Noise Choir credited as back-up singers on his iconic song “American Pie” actually consisted of James Taylor, Carly Simon, Pete Seeger, and Livingston Taylor.
It’s hard to tell from the mix, but producer Ed Freeman confirms it. “It was quite a star-studded cast, and one that I really should have photographed.”
James, Carly and Livingston also sang together on Liv’s “Loving Be My New Horizon” from his third album Over the Rainbow (1973).
8/11/13 – UPDATE/CORRECTION: In an undated sidebar on his official website, Don McLean disputes this claim.
Recent articles have claimed that James Taylor and Carly Simon sang background vocals on the last verse of “American Pie”. Don McLean would like to confirm that these reports are entirely untrue and that neither artist was present at the recording.
No mention is made of Pete Seeger or Livingston Taylor’s involvement.
I should note that my original article makes it sound like Don McLean was interviewed for the Yahoo! Music article, but that is not the case. As it is written, it appears the choir information is coming solely from producer Ed Freeman based on his quote about wanting to get a picture of the singers. The article’s writer may also be using another source, but it’s really not clear. I apologize for any confusion or misrepresentation.
It seems odd that the producer and artist would have such significantly different knowledge of this recording session. My best guess is that Yahoo! Music severely misquoted and/or misunderstood Ed Freeman, but I can’t really be sure. The mystery deepens…
Thanks to Bill Pressler for spotting Don McLean’s statement.