American Pie

singer Don McLean says his domestic violence arrest this week stemmed from "the very painful breakdown" of his long marriage and asked fans not to judge him.

McLean, 70, the singer-songwriter behind tender 1970s hit songs like American Pie and Vincent, was arrested on Monday at his home in Camden, Maine, where he lives with his photographer wife Patrisha.

Authorities did not give details of the incident but the Portland Press Herald newspaper on Thursday reported that his wife has since obtained a restraining order against her husband, citing long-term anger issues.

American Pie singer Don McLean has been arrested on a domestic violence charge. Photo / AP
American Pie singer Don McLean has been arrested on a domestic violence charge. Photo / AP

In his first comments, McLean said in a statement on his official website 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 realise that this will all be resolved, but I hope I will not be judged in this frantic media environment," he added.

McLean is due to appear in court in February on the misdemeanor domestic violence charge.

Meanwhile, McLean's wife was granted a temporary order of protection from the American Pie singer after she cited a pattern of abuse going back three decades.

Police in Maine arrested McLean on a misdemeanour domestic-violence charge on Monday, and court records show that his wife then filed a handwritten request for protection.

She wrote that in the early years of their marriage, McLean's rage was "unfathomably deep and scary."

She said McLean's abuse often left her bruised, and that she feared for her life when she called 911 this week.

"Don terrorised me for four hours, until the 911 call that I think might have saved my life," she wrote.

McLean issued a statement on Thursday saying the marriage is experiencing a "very painful breakdown." He also said he is "not a villain" and that it is an emotional time for his family.

"I may never recover from this but I will try and hope to continue to entertain you all as I always have," McLean said.

McLean was released on bail and is due in court February 22.

His attorney, Walter McKee, said McLean will plead not guilty when the case returns to court.

He also said McLean "vigorously denies" his wife's allegations.

The 70-year-old McLean grew up in Port Chester, New York, and has been a fixture in the wealthy coastal Maine town of Camden for years.

American Pie, his 1971 ode to personal and cultural upheaval, was named a song of the century by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

His signature song American Pie topped the Billboard chart 44 years ago.

The song was about the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper in a plane crash on February 3, 1959 - The Day the Music Died.

McLean's original working manuscript was auctioned for US$1.2 million (A$1.74 million) last year.