Alex Trebek crossed a big item off his bucket list before he died.

A year ago, the beloved “Jeopardy!” host reached out to Don McLean — the singer-songwriter behind hits like “American Pie” and “Vincent” — and asked if he would perform at his annual “Jeopardy!” staff Christmas party.

“Is this even remotely possible. its been a longtime dream of mine,” Trebek wrote in a Nov. 6, 2019, email McLean shared in a news release sent to the Deseret News. “Not sure i even have the budget but didn’t want to not give it a try. Please give me a call. thanks Alex Trebek”

McLean didn’t hesitate. On Dec. 18, he showed up to the Italian restaurant Vitello’s in Studio City, California, and performed a setlist that Trebek personally crafted. At this time, the “Jeopardy!” host was several months into treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer.

“When I arrived at the restaurant, I told Alex what I was planning on performing and without hesitation, Alex 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 said in a statement. “I, of course, obliged and told him it was his show and I would do whatever he wanted me to.

“It was a joyous and sad occasion and I was very touched that my music was that important to him,” McLean continued. “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.”

A picture of the setlist Alex Trebek crafted for singer-songwriter Don McLean. | Provided by 2911 Media
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That would end up being Trebek’s last staff Christmas party. The longtime host died on Nov. 8 at age 80, surrounded by family and friends.

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McLean said he thought of Trebek often after that special Christmas gathering, and called Trebek a person “we all can learn from.”

“I’ll think of him in the future,” he said. “And maybe try to be a little more like him.”