“American Pie” singer-songwriter Don McLean has been denied the George and Ira Gershwin Award from the UCLA Student Alumni Association due to his pleading guilty to domestic violence charges three years ago, as first reported by the Portland Press Herald. He had been set to receive the lifetime achievement award on May 17.
McLean was arrested in 2016 for domestic violence and terrorizing charges against his wife in their Camden, Maine, residence. He later pleaded guilty to the charges, and a few were eventually dismissed under a deferred disposition process.
Senior executive director of UCLA Strategic Communications Media Relations Tod M. Tamberg said of the rebuked honor in a statement:
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. 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.
McLean has also responded to the university in a Facebook post and demanded an apology:
You awarded me your George and Ira Gershwin life time achievement award and then took it back because you found out about my squabble with my ex wife. This has been all over the internet for 3 years. Are you people morons? This is settled law. Maybe I need to give you some bribe money to grease the college wheels. 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. We live in a dark age of accusation and not law.
Previous recipients of the prize, which originated in 1988 to honor the Gershwin brothers’ contribution to music, include The Who, Alanis Morissette and Julie Andrews.