Don McLean and Larry Gatlin Drop Out of Performing at NRA Convention Following Texas School Shooting

"It would be disrespectful and hurtful for me to perform for the NRA at their convention," Don McLean said

don mclean
Don McLean. Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty

Don McLean will no longer be performing during a concert special at this year's National Rifle Association (NRA) convention, PEOPLE can confirm.

The "American Pie" musician, 76, said in a statement that he will not be partaking in the event, which is scheduled to take place in Houston, Texas, this weekend. The reason for his exit, he said, was Tuesday's mass shooting within the state where 19 children and two teachers were killed.

"In light of the recent events in Texas, I have decided it would be disrespectful and hurtful for me to perform for the NRA at their convention in Houston this week," McLean tells PEOPLE.

"I'm sure all the folks planning to attend this event are shocked and sickened by these events as well. After all, we are all Americans. I share the sorrow for this terrible, cruel loss with the rest of the nation," he adds.

People sit on the curb outside of Robb Elementary School as State troopers guard the area in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. - An 18-year-old gunman killed 14 children and a teacher at an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday, according to the state's governor, in the nation's deadliest school shooting in years.

McLean was originally scheduled to perform as part of the NRA's Grand Ole Night of Freedom concert on Saturday evening.

The concert is a part of the three-day NRA event, which will also feature speeches from former President Donald Trump, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz.

The Grand Ole Night of Freedom concert, hosted by SiriusXM's Y2K host Danielle Peck, will include other performances from Jacob Bryant and T. Graham Brown.

Representatives for Brown did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment to see if he will still be performing. A rep for Bryant confirmed he will still be involved.

Larry Gatlin, who was previously set to appear, has also since dropped out. He said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE: "I cannot, in good conscience, perform at the NRA convention in Houston this weekend. While I agree with most of the positions held by the NRA, I have come to believe that, while background checks would not stop every madman with a gun, it is at the very least a step in the right direction toward trying to prevent the kind of tragedy we saw this week in Uvalde — in my beloved, weeping TEXAS."

"My prayers and thoughts go to all who are suffering, and I pray that the NRA will rethink some of its outdated and ill-thought-out positions regarding firearms in AMERICA," he continued, in part.

Former Restless Heart lead singer Larry Stewart has also excused himself from the lineup, writing on Facebook, "Due to the tragedy in Uvalde with the horrific school shooting and children who died, I want to honor the victims, families, the town and our friends in the great state of Texas the best I know how. So I have made the decision to pull out as a performer for the NRA convention this weekend, especially given the event is just down the road. I just believe this is best for me at this time. God Bless everyone involved!"

Similarly, Lee Greenwood said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE: "As a father, I join the rest of America in being absolutely heartbroken by the horrific event that transpired this week in Texas. I was scheduled to perform at NRA's private event on Saturday with my band. After thoughtful consideration, we have decided to cancel the appearance out of respect for those mourning the loss of those innocent children and teachers in Uvalde."

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On Tuesday, an 18-year-old male gunman barricaded himself inside an elementary school classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, shooting and killing 19 students and two teachers.

Vigils for the victims were held on Wednesday evening, with the community in the small, tight-knit city — located about 85 miles west of San Antonio — gathering at the Uvalde County Fairplex to remember the lives tragically taken too soon.

Both Abbott and Cruz were in attendance, as was Beto O'Rourke, who is currently running for Abbott's political position.

Many leaders within the Uvalde community spoke during the remembrance event, including Pastor Tony Gruben of the Baptist Temple Church, who told mourners, "Our hearts are broken. We are devastated," according to NBC News.

Towards the end of the event, a single violinist performed a moving rendition of "Amazing Grace" on stage, the Texas Tribune reported.

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