Photo: The Everly Brothers in 1965 – Phil (left) and Don (right) (promo) | From Wikipedia: The Everly Brothers were an American country-influenced rock and roll duo, known for steel-string acoustic guitar playing and close harmony singing. Consisting of Isaac Donald “Don” Everly (February 1, 1937 – August 21, 2021) and Phillip “Phil” Everly (January 19, 1939 – January 3, 2014), the duo was raised in a musical family, first appearing on radio singing along with their father Ike Everly and mother Margaret Everly as “The Everly Family” in the 1940s. When the brothers were still in high school, they gained the attention of prominent Nashville musicians like Chet Atkins, who began to promote them for national attention.
They began writing and recording their own music in 1956, and their first hit song came in 1957, with “Bye Bye Love”, written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. The song hit No. 1 in the spring of 1957, and additional hits would follow through 1958, many of them written by the Bryants, including “Wake Up Little Susie”, “All I Have to Do Is Dream”, and “Problems”. In 1960, they signed with the major label Warner Bros. Records and recorded “Cathy’s Clown”, written by the brothers themselves, which was their biggest selling single. The brothers enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve in 1961, and their output dropped off, though additional hit singles continued through 1962, with “That’s Old Fashioned (That’s the Way Love Should Be)” being their last top-10 hit.
Long-simmering disputes with Wesley Rose, the CEO of Acuff-Rose Music, which managed the group, a growing drug usage in the 1960s, as well as changing tastes in popular music, led to the group’s decline in popularity in its native U.S., though the brothers continued to release hit singles in the U.K. and Canada, and had many highly successful tours throughout the 1960s. In the early 1970s, the brothers began releasing solo recordings, and in 1973 they officially broke up. Starting in 1983, the brothers got back together, and would continue to perform periodically until Phil’s death in 2014. Don died seven years later.
The group was highly influential on the music of the generation that followed it. Many of the top acts of the 1960s were heavily influenced by the close-harmony singing and acoustic guitar playing of the Everly Brothers, including the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Bee Gees, and Simon & Garfunkel. In 2015, Rolling Stone ranked the Everly Brothers No. 1 on its list of the 20 Greatest Duos of All Time. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class of 1986, and into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. Don was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2019, earning the organization’s first Iconic Riff Award for his distinctive rhythm guitar intro to the Everlys’ massive 1957 hit “Wake Up Little Susie”.
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The music of the Everly Brothers influenced the Beatles, who referred to themselves as “the British Everly Brothers” when Paul McCartney and John Lennon went hitchhiking south to win a talent competition. They based the vocal arrangement of “Please Please Me” on “Cathy’s Clown”.
Keith Richards called Don Everly “one of the finest rhythm [guitar] players”.
Paul Simon, who worked with the pair on the song “Graceland”, said on the day after Phil’s death, “Phil and Don were the most beautiful sounding duo I ever heard. Both voices pristine and soulful. The Everlys were there at the crossroads of country and R&B. They witnessed and were part of the birth of rock and roll.”
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Phil Everly died at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, on January 3, 2014, 16 days before his 75th birthday, of lung disease. Phil’s widow Patti blamed her husband’s death on his smoking habit, which caused him to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and recounted Phil’s spending his final years having to carry oxygen tanks with him wherever he went and taking 20 different types of medications per day.
Don Everly claimed in a 2014 interview with the Los Angeles Times that he had given up smoking in the late 1960s and that Phil had stopped too, but started again during their breakup and had continued until 2001. Don said that weak lungs ran in the family, as their father, Ike, had died of black lung disease. He admitted that he had lived “a very difficult life” with his brother and that he and Phil had become estranged once again in later years, something that was mainly attributed to “their vastly different views on politics and life”, with the music being the one thing they shared closely, saying, “it’s almost like we could read each other’s minds when we sang.” However, Don also stated he had not gotten over Phil’s death, saying, “I always thought about him every day, even when we were not speaking to each other. It still just shocks me that he’s gone.” Don added that he had always firmly believed he would die before his brother, because he was older. In a 2016 interview Don said he was still coping with the loss of Phil and that he had kept some of his brother’s ashes in his home. He added that he would pick up the ashes every morning and say “good morning”, while admitting that it was a peculiar ritual.
On August 21, 2021, Don Everly died at his home in Nashville, aged 84.
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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…
Again, the number of deaths from COVID is astounding. Please get vaccinated. Truly may save your life. If you want to know more about any of the musicians we lost this past week, please check out http://www.wikipedia.com
25: Elly Kasim, 76, Indonesian singer.
24: Fritz McIntyre, 62, English keyboardist (Simply Red) (death announced on this date; Charlie Watts, 80, English Hall of Fame drummer (The Rolling Stones, Blues Incorporated).
23: Olli Wisdom, 63, British musician (Specimen).
22: Charles Burles, 85, French tenor; Brian Travers, 62, British saxophonist and songwriter (UB40), brain cancer; Eric Wagner, 62, American heavy metal singer (Trouble), COVID-19.
21: Bill Emerson, 83, American five-string banjo player; Don Everly, 84, American Hall of Fame singer (The Everly Brothers) and songwriter (“Cathy’s Clown”, “So Sad (to Watch Good Love Go Bad)”).
20: Ian Carey, 45, American DJ and record producer; Tom T. Hall, 85, American Hall of Fame singer-songwriter (“Harper Valley PTA”, “I Love”, “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died”); Larry Harlow, 82, American salsa musician and composer, kidney disease; Peter Ind, 93, British jazz double bassist and record producer; Michael Morgan, 63, American conductor.
18: José María Cámara, 73, Spanish music and theater producer, cancer.
17: Gary “Chicken” Hirsh, 81, American drummer (Country Joe and the Fish).