Don McLean says having asthma saved him from "drinking himself to death".
The 'American Pie' musician - who missed a lot of school due to the respiratory illness - has claimed the education system "knocks" the creativity out of children, and he thinks in another life he would have struggled being "a really boring person at a bank".
He told The i newspaper: "Children are all naturally creative – until school knocks it out of them. They sing, they paint, they invent stuff...
“One of the advantages of having asthma is that it kept me out of school for long periods for many years. I was able to develop another Don McLean that wasn’t programmed by the school system.
“If I’d been perfectly healthy and a good student or athlete, I’d probably be dead now because I would have been a really boring person at a bank somewhere who drank himself to death.”
Meanwhile, the 76-year-old star revealed his father dying when he was just 15 gave him the freedom to pursue his passion for music, although he admitted he was "very sad" by his passing.
He added: "For some reason my father was adamantly opposed to show business. He thought that was for some sort of lesser man.
“I was very sad when my father passed away, but I also realised I could do anything I wanted without worrying about my father turning against me, which he certainly would have done.”
After his dad's death, Don completed a degree in business administration in 1968 before crossing paths with folk singer Pete Seeger, and he released his first album 'Tapestry' two years later.
Although he was rejected 72 times by different record companies before his debut record, he insisted there was never a backup plan.
He said: "I never thought about what would happen if I failed. The probability of failure was zero. It was simply not going to happen. I would not allow that.”