“American Pie” singer Don McLean issued an emotional remembrance of Jeopardy host Alex Trebek over the weekend, recalling how the veteran game show titan personally requested the songwriter’s presence at his 2019 Christmas party.
“Alex asked if I would come and sing for him and his Jeopardy! family at his annual Christmas party last year,” said McLean in a statement. “I was on his ‘bucket’ list he told me.”
The gig took place at the Italian restaurant Vitellos near Trebek’s home, with the host apologizing for his rosy complexion, blaming it on the medication he was on to treat the pancreatic cancer that took his life on Sunday at the age of 80. McLean said the holiday party was a “joyous and sad occasion,” noting how touched he was that his music was so important to Trebek, who helmed the popular syndicated game show for three decades with his signature dry humor and a mischievous glint in his eye.
“There was not the slightest hint of self-pity or weakness in this man. He was elegant and dignified as you saw him on television,” said McClean of Trebek’s demeanor at the Dec. 18 party for 150 in Studio City, Calif., where Trebek said having the singer perform would be the realization of a “longtime dream” of his. “Old school for sure and someone who we all can learn from. I thought of him often afterward and I’ll think of him in the future and maybe try to be a little more like him.”
And, in keeping with his exactitude, McLean noted that when he arrived he shared his planned setlist, at which point Trebek “pulled out a sheet of paper that he hand wrote my songs on with their lengths, in which, he wanted me to stick to.” McLean, of course, held on to that hand-written set list.
The beloved game show host first revealed his diagnosis in March 2019 and maintained a positive attitude throughout, with his death eliciting warm tributes from KISS’ Gene Simmons, John Legend, Nancy Sinatra, Charlie Puth and many more.
Check out pictures of the men, and the set list, below.
Alex asked if I would come and sing for him & his Jeopardy family at his annual Christmas party last year. I was on his “bucket list” he told me.
It was at a lovely Italian restaurant near his home. pic.twitter.com/gC6rkKyXFw
— Don McLean (@donmclean) November 8, 2020
Anyone who knew Alex would know what a stickler he was about timing. When I arrived at the restaurant, I told Alex what I was planning on performing & without hesitation, Alex pulled out a sheet of paper that he hand wrote my songs on with their lengths…. pic.twitter.com/MS7WIyk74i
— Don McLean (@donmclean) November 9, 2020