Don McLean is not bringing his 2022 50th-anniversary “American Pie” tour to the Quad Cities, but he will be in Iowa on Feb. 3, a central time and place in the blazingly brief, legendary Buddy Holly story.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of the most iconic songs and albums ever, the 76-year-old McLean is scheduled to perform at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake (three and a half hours from Davenport) on Feb. 3, the 63-year anniversary of the tragic death of Buddy Holly, at 22, in a plane crash. McLean helped immortalize the date and era in his epic 8-and-a-half minute “American Pie,” which laments “the day the music died.”

“After spending the past 18 months at home, I am thrilled to be getting back on the road with my band,” McLean said in a tour release. “2022 marks the 50th anniversary from when ‘American Pie’ landed at the #1 spot on the Billboard chart and we will be celebrating on tour all year long. We will be performing all the songs from the ‘American Pie’ album, plus many of the other hits that fans will be expecting to hear.”

As tragic as the backstory behind the song “American Pie” is, with the much-too-early death of the new rock’n’roll hope Buddy Holly, the track is also legendary. The 76-year-old composer has written and sung numerous other successes in his decades-long career with “Vincent (Starry Starry Night),” “Castles in the Air,” “And I Love You So,” and “Cryin’,” all of which will be heard, along with newer pieces on the upcoming tour.

McLean’s “American Pie” was voted “Song of the 20th Century,” and handwritten lyrics to the song were auctioned off for more than $1.2 million in 2015, with the composition added to the Library Of Congress National Recording Registry two years later.

The cover of McLean’s “American Pie” album, originally released in October 1971.

Over the years, the song has been covered again and again by music icons like Madonna and Garth Brooks. Rapper Drake repeatedly sampled McLean tunes and hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur also cited him as an important influence, the tour release said. McLean released his 19th studio album, “Botanical Gardens,” in 2018. The 2022 tour kicks off Jan. 28 in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the U.S. leg ends July 9, before McLean tours the U.K. and Europe next fall.

Davenport one of the last stops in 1959 tour

Holly, creator of the hits “That’ll Be the Day,” “It’s So Easy,” “Peggy Sue” and “Everyday,” was also a strong influence on the Beatles, who played their name off his band, the Crickets.

Holly set off on his last tour on Jan. 23, 1959, in Milwaukee, and traveled to Kenosha, Wis., and Mankato, Montevideo and St. Paul, Minn., before coming to Davenport for the tour’s only seated concert Jan. 29 at the Capitol Theatre. Then it was on to Fort Dodge, Iowa, Duluth, Minn., and and Green Bay, Wis., before Clear Lake on Feb. 2, 1959.

A poster promoting the 1959 “Winter Dance Party” tour, which brought Buddy Holly to Davenport’s Capitol Theatre Jan. 29, 1959.

After the Surf Ballroom show (the Winter Dance Party featuring Ritchie Valens, 17, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, 28), Holly got a Beechcraft Bonanza to take him and his back-up band (Tommy Allsup and Waylon Jennings) to play the next date of the tour in Moorhead, Minn. The Big Bopper asked Jennings for his spot on the four-seat plane because he was sick and didn’t want to ride a bus.

Valens begged for a seat on the plane, and Allsup handed a coin to the Surf’s host to flip him for it. Allsup lost the coin toss, but won his life. The plane took off from the nearby Mason City Municipal Airport in light snow and gusty winds at 12:05 a.m., and crashed a few minutes later, killing all aboard.

“Organizationally speaking, the tour was a complete catastrophe,” according to a history of the Winter Dance Party. “The shows were often scheduled hundreds of miles apart from one another as they zigzagged through one of the deadliest winters the Midwest had seen in decades, in the worst possible transportation available. The musicians crammed into a drafty bus to perform in small ballrooms and theatres and by February 1st, Carl Bunch (Holly’s drummer) had left with frostbitten feet.”

Buddy Holly (Charles Hardin Holley) poses for a portrait circa 1958 in New York City. He was just 22 when he was killed in a plane crash in Iowa Feb. 3, 1959 (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images).

By the time the tour limped into Clear Lake, Iowa on the evening of Monday, February 2nd, Holly had decided to charter a small plane for himself, Allsup and Jennings to fly to the next venue, following the show at the Surf Ballroom. At the last minute, Jennings gave up his seat to The Big Bopper (who had the flu) and Tommy Allsup lost his seat to Ritchie Valens with a flip of a coin.

“The performance in Clear Lake was electric and the music brought a joy that would remain forever in the hearts and minds of all who attended,” the online history says. “It was a night that burned bright with some of rock and roll’s greatest songs and its brightest stars…and ended with the unthinkable.”

For more information on Don McLean, visit his website.