DON McLean, the singer of the classic song American Pie, has pleaded guilty to hitting his now ex-wife, reports said Friday.
The 70-year-old artist entered a plea deal Thursday in a Maine court in which he agreed to pay US$1,000 each for several misdemeanour counts including domestic violence assault, several local news outlets reported.
Under the agreement, he will also undergo a mental health evaluation and have to stay away from his ex-wife, photographer Patrisha McLean. In turn, he will avoid more serious charges that could have brought prison time, the reports said.
Don McLean – whose 1971 American Pie is often described as one of the most iconic pop songs – was arrested in January after his then wife called the police.
The strife has played out publicly, with the singer repeatedly denying allegations of abuse and urging fans to watch a documentary that offered a happy portrait of the couple’s 30-year marriage.
But Patrisha McLean filed for divorce in March and, in Thursday’s court hearing, said that she had long feared for her life.
“Don took away 30 years of my life by controlling every aspect of it through violence and fear of violence. Because he told me over and over again that if I left him he could kill me, divorce has not freed me from living in fear of him,” she was quoted as saying by the Village Soup website affiliated with local newspapers in mid-coastal Maine.
A lawyer for McLean did not immediately respond to a request for comment and a court official declined comment.
McLean earlier this year postponed a tour of Australia, saying he wanted to devote his time to saving his marriage, but has since returned to his music.
American Pie offers a glimpse of the tumult of the 20th century, forlornly recalling “The Day the Music Died” – the 1959 plane crash that killed rockers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and “The Big Bopper” J.P. Richardson.