Don McLean and the Dubliners to receive BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards

Veteran musicians will be given Lifetime Achievement Awards next month

American singer/songwriter Don McLean and Irish band the Dubliners will be presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards at The Lowry Theatre in Salford on 8 February.

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McLean, best known for his two hit singles American Pie and Vincent, began his career in the folk clubs of 1960s New York, including the now legendary Gaslight Café, which would over the years play host to names such as Bob Dylan, Richie Havens, Phil Ochs and Bruce Springsteen. His career was given a real boost in 1968 when he performed a series of concerts with his friend and mentor, Pete Seeger, to raise awareness of pollution in the Hudson River.

McLean released his debut album, Tapestry, in 1970, but despite favourable reviews it failed to make much of an impact outside folk circles, reaching only 111 in the American album chart.

But what a change of fortune would come a year later, with the release of the American Pie album that became a worldwide number one. In 2001 the title track was voted number five in the 365 Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America, and it charted for a second time in the UK when rereleased in 1991.

Don McLean has released 24 albums in his 40-year recording career, but despite strong sales and critical acclaim, none have reached the stratospheric heights of American Pie. The song itself, however, became something of a burden to McLean and for a while he refused to include it in his act.

McLean will perform live at the BBC2 ceremony and, on being told news of his award, thanked the British public for the loyalty that had led to him being chosen.

Irish band the Dubliners started their career around the same time as Don McLean, but on the other side of the Atlantic in the rowdy pubs of Dublin.

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Originally called The Ronnie Drew Ballad Group, they changed their name when band member Luke Kelly became inspired by the James Joyce novel Dubliners. After being spotted by the BBC at the 1963 Edinburgh Festival they appeared on a programme called Hootenanny, this in turn leading to a contract with Transatlantic Records and the release of their debut album in 1964. In the same decade the band scored top 20 chart hits in the UK with the singles Seven Drunken Nights and The Black Velvet Band.