Don McLean's ex Patrisha claims he punched, kicked and squeezed her head in vice-like grip: 'It's his hallmark'

'The physical behavior was more extreme, but the emotional effects lasted longer... I was terrified the rest of the marriage'

                            Don McLean's ex Patrisha claims he punched, kicked and squeezed her head in vice-like grip: 'It's his hallmark'
Don McLean and Patrisha McLean during Stagecoach: California's Country Music Festival (Getty Images)

Patrisha McLean, the ex-wife of singer-songwriter Don McLean, best known for his 1971 hit song ‘American Pie’, has accused the singer of “emotional, physical and sexual abuse” throughout their 29 years of marriage. Patrisha and Don McLean split in 2016 following his arrest on domestic violence charges. In a matter of months, the two reached a $10 million divorce settlement. Patrisha had cited “adultery, cruel and abusive treatment, and irreconcilable differences” in court documents.

Patrisha, in the past, has spoken about how “deeply controlling” her ex-husband was, how he had an “explosive” temper, and just how often he “lost it” with her. Now, she has opened up about more harrowing details of their decades-long abusive marriage, claiming that he used to punch her, kick her and squeeze her head in a vice-like grip during his violent episodes.


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She said that their relationship was a “whirlwind” romance at the start. But on the night she moved in with him, she recalled experiencing his temper for the first time. “I felt trapped. I didn’t have a job, apartment, or car. When I was dependent on him, I saw his anger. His temper. But before then, life was a fairytale. Things were good,” she said.

“He punched me, kicked me, and pulled my hair. He liked to put both hands on my head and squeeze it like it was in a vice. It was his hallmark and trademark. His thing,” she alleged. “But the most devastating aspect was the emotional abuse. The physical behavior was more extreme, but the emotional effects lasted longer. I was terrified the rest of the marriage. I walked on eggshells the whole time. For 29 years.”

The 2016 incident that led to the divorce

As per Patrisha’s statement to police detailing the incident, on January 17, 2016, “Don terrorized me for four hours until the 911 call that I think might have saved my life. She wrote, “He was scaring me with the intensity of his rage and the craziness in his eyes,” adding, “My husband has/had a violent temper.” She also reportedly asked for a restraining order, saying: “For the first 10 years or so his rage was unfathomably deep and very scary — calling me horrible things.”

In this handout photo provided by the Knox County Jail, Singer Don McLean appears in a booking photo after being charged with domestic violence assault (Getty Images)

Speaking years later about that day, Patrisha said, “I called 911 this time because he was in his Mr Hyde mode of Jekyll and Hyde where there was no reaching him, no turning back. He was trying to shove open the locked bathroom door behind which I had barricaded myself. As it was splintering I pushed the numbers 911, and as he was breaking through the thick, locked door I pressed the button to send the number through because I believed when he broke through he would kill me.”

The New York Times reported that the case ended in a “muted fashion”. Originally charged with six misdemeanors, McLean pleaded guilty to four as part of a plea agreement in which one of the four charges, domestic violence assault, would be dismissed after a year. For the remaining three — one count each of criminal restraint, criminal mischief and making domestic violence threats — he paid around $3,000 in fines and was not sentenced to any jail time.

Speaking about the incident in its aftermath, Don McLean said that the past year had been “hard emotional times for my wife, my children and me. What is occurring is the very painful breakdown of an almost 30-year relationship. Our hearts are broken and we must carry on.

“There are no winners or losers but I am not a villain… I ask God to give us the strength to find new happiness and I hope people will realize that this will all be resolved, but I hope I will not be judged in this frantic media environment,” he said. But later, speaking with the Irish Times, he said, “I can truly say that my ex-wife is the worst person I ever knew. There’s nobody who compares.”

Disclaimer : This is based on sources and we have been unable to verify this information independently.