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The Everly Brothers

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Everly Brothers
The Everly Brothers On 'The Ed Sullivan Show' - Photo: SOFA Entertainment/YouTube

The music of the Everly Brothers influenced the Beatles, with Paul McCartney and John Lennon referring to themselves as “the British Everly Brothers”. Keith Richards called Don Everly “one of the finest rhythm guitar players”

Don was born in Brownie, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, on February 1, 1937, and Phil in Chicago, Illinois, on January 19, 1939.

According to family legend, Ike Everly (Phil and Don’s father) and his brothers set the record for the most coal shovelled in a single day at the Muhlenberg coal mine where they all worked as young men.

In the late 1930s, the Everly family left Kentucky to move to Chicago so Ike could pursue his dream of being a musician. In Chicago, Ike played in clubs, on street corners, and had a brief stint on the radio.

The Everly family moved to Shenandoah, Iowa and Ike secured a job singing on KMA radio in the very early morning hours for the local farmers. Eventually, one by one the whole family joined the act.

The house where the Everly family lived is now a museum, complete with the original fold-up bathtub.

In 1953 the family packed up their car and headed to Knoxville, Tennessee. Immediately upon their arrival, they auditioned for The Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour on WORL. Much to their surprise, they were immediately hired as the Everly Family.

In 1953, Ike Everly began a correspondence with Chet Atkins. Chet was already a fan of Ike’s distinctive thumb-picking style. Ike proudly told him about his talented sons, Don and Phil. When Ike and Chet eventually met face to face in 1954, Don had recently penned the song “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” and Atkins placed it with the legendary Kitty Wells, who recorded it.

The brothers toured with Buddy Holly in 1957 and 1958. According to Holly’s biographer Philip Norman, they were responsible for persuading Holly and the Crickets to change their outfits from Levi’s and T-shirts to the Everlys’ Ivy League suits.

Their debut single “Bye Bye Love” released in 1957 was written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant reached No. 2 on the US Billboard Pop charts. George Harrison reinterpreted it for his 1974 album Dark Horse, changing the words to reference his wife Pattie Boyd leaving him for his friend Eric Clapton. “Bye Bye Love” has also been covered by Simon & Garfunkel.

The Everlys signed with Warner Bros. Records in 1960, where they recorded for 10 years. Their first Warner Bros hit, 1960’s “Cathy’s Clown”, which they wrote and composed themselves, sold eight million copies and became the duo’s biggest-selling record.

In November 1961 — at the height of their fame — the Everly Brothers enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. They reportedly did so to avoid being drafted into the Army. They completed 12 weeks of Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California. On February 18 1962, shortly after graduating from boot camp, they performed “Jezebel” on the Ed Sullivan Show while wearing their Marine uniforms. The brothers’ stint in the Marines caused their music career to take a nosedive.

The brothers also tried their hand at collaborations. Phil formed the Keestone Family Singers, which featured Glen Campbell and Carole King. Their lone single, “Melodrama”, failed to chart. As Adrian Kimberly, Don recorded a rendition of “Pomp and Circumstance,” which became a Billboard Top 40 hit.

Don Everly told a reporter on July 13, 1973 (via Rolling Stone) “I’m tired of being an Everly Brother.” The following night, he swigged tequila before taking the stage with Phil Everly at the John Wayne Theatre at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. After a drunken Don proceeded to mess up the lyrics to “Cathy’s Clown,” an onsite manager stopped the show halfway through. Phil smashed his guitar on the floor before storming offstage, and Don played the rest of the show alone.

During Don’s hiatus from the Everly Brothers, he recorded three solo albums.

There were many collaborations with other artists. Don recorded and toured the world with legendary guitar player Albert Lee among others. His music during the solo years often had a country twang. Don’s band, “The Dead Cowboys,” was a popular fixture around late-night Nashville hot spots.

Phil recorded five albums during his “time off.” He kept himself busy by making television ad movie appearances.

In 1975, Linda Ronstadt had a huge hit with “When Will I Be Loved,” a song Phil had written as a teenager. Phil was awarded the Robert J. Burton BMI Award for the most-played country song of 1975.

In 1983, a group of mutual friends arranged a meet-up for the brothers who quickly patched up their differences. They both agreed the place to hold their reunion concert was at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

The Everly Brothers were among the first 10 artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. They were introduced by Neil Young, who observed that every musical group he had ever belonged to had tried, and failed, to copy the Everly Brothers’ harmonies.

In 1997, the brothers were awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. They were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004.

During their recording career, which stretched between 1956 and 1998, they released 21 studio albums, two live albums, 29 compilation albums and 75 singles.

The Everly Brothers had 35 Billboard Top 100 singles, 26 in the top 40. They hold the record for the most Top 100 singles by any duo and trail only Hall & Oates for the most Top 40 singles by a duo.

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.

In 2015, Rolling Stone ranked the Everly Brothers No. 1 on its list of the 20 Greatest Duos of All Time.

The Everly Brothers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for their work in the music industry, located at 7000 Hollywood Blvd.

Don Everly died at his home in Nashville on August 21, 2021, aged 84.

In 2022, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant released Raise the Roof, which contained a cover of the Everly’s “The Price of Love”, produced by T-Bone Burnett.

Important Dates In The Life Of The Everly Brothers:

On this day in music
13 Mar 2023
American drummer Jim Gordon, died in prison at the age of 77. He was one of the most requested session drummers in the late 1960s and 1970s. Gordon co-wrote Layla with Eric Clapton, worked with The Everly Brothers, The Monkees, The Beach Boys, George Harrison, (All Things Must Pass), John Lennon (Imagine), The Carpenters, Traffic, Glen Campbell, (Wichita Lineman), Steely Dan, Jackson Browne, Frank Zappa and many others. A diagnosed schizophrenic, Gordon murdered his mother on June 3, 1983, by pounding her head with a hammer. He was sentenced to sixteen years-to-life in prison in 1984.
21 Aug 2021
Don Everly, the surviving member of the rock 'n' roll duo The Everly Brothers, died at the age of 84. Everly and his brother, Phil, had worldwidehits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including 'Bye Bye Love' and 'All I Have To Do Is Dream'. They were known for their close harmonies, and influenced groups like The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel. The Beatles based the vocal arrangement of 'Please Please Me' on The Everly's hit 'Cathy's Clown'.
11 Aug 2021
American guitarist, Roy Gaines died a day before his 84th birthday. He was a backing musician in sessions with the Everly Brothers, the Supremes, Bobby Darin, Stevie Wonder, and Gladys Knight. Gaines co-wrote the song ‘No Use Crying’, which was recorded by both George Jones and Ray Charles.
17 Sep 2014
Country music star George Hamilton IV died in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 77. The singer and guitarist, who began performing as a teenager in the 1950s, had suffered a major heart attack a few days earlier. At the start of his career in 1956, Hamilton had a top five hit in the US with A Rose and A Baby Ruth, which led to tours with pop idols Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers.
2 Apr 2014
Recordings by U2, (The Joshua Tree), the Everly Brothers, ('Cathy's Clown'), Jeff Buckley, ('Hallelujah'), Linda Ronstadt, (Heart Like a Wheel) and Creedence Clearwater Revival's('Fortunate Son') were among those newly selected for induction into the Library of Congress National Recording Registry.
3 Jan 2014
Phil Everly, one half of the Everly Brothers, died of complications from lung disease aged 74, in California. In their heyday between 1957 and 1962, the Everly Brothers had 19 Top 40 hits, including 'Bye Bye Love', 'Wake Up Little Susie' and 'All I Have to Do Is Dream' and influenced acts such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys. The Everly Brothers had 35 Billboard Top-100 singles, 26 in the top 40. They hold the record for the most Top-100 singles by any duo. In the UK, they had 30 chart singles, 29 in the top 40, 13 top 10, and 4 at No. 1 between 1957 and 1984.
22 Feb 2012
American singer, songwriter, guitarist Billy Strange died aged 81. As a session musician with the famed Wrecking Crew, he appeared on hit songs for Elvis Presley, including 'A Little Less Conversation', Nancy and Frank Sinatra's 'Somethin' Stupid', played guitar on numerous Beach Boys hits, including 'Sloop John B' and the Pet Sounds album and worked with The Ventures, Willie Nelson, The Everly Brothers, Wanda Jackson, Randy Newman, and Nat King Cole, among others.
13 Apr 2009
Procol Harum's 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale' was the most played song in public places in the past 75 years, according to a chart compiled for BBC Radio 2. Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody was at number two followed by 'All I Have To Do Is Dream' by the Everly Brothers. Wet Wet Wet's 1994 hit, Love Is All Around, was at number four followed by Bryan Adams's 1991 hit '(Everything I Do), I Do It For You.'
27 Dec 2008
Singer, songwriter, guitarist, Delaney Bramlett died in Los Angeles from complications after gall bladder surgery. Was a member of Delaney, Bonnie & Friends and worked with George Harrison, The Everly Brothers, John Lennon, Janis Joplin, J.J. Cale, and Eric Clapton.
3 Oct 2007
American jazz bassist Lloyd Trotman died of pneumonia age 84. He backed numerous jazz and rock and roll artists in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s including Sam Cooke, James Brown and The Everly Brothers. He provided the bass line on Ben E. King's 'Stand by Me'.
7 Sep 2003
US singer, songwriter, Warren Zevon died. He had worked as a session musician, was the piano player and band leader for the Everly Brothers. His 1969 song 'She Quit Me' was included in the soundtrack for the film Midnight Cowboy. Jackson Browne, the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt all appeared on his albums. He recorded over 15 solo albums, had the 1978 US No.21 single 'Werewolves Of London'.
22 Apr 2003
Songwriter Felice Bryant died of cancer. Wrote many hits with her husband Boudleaux including; The Everly Brothers, 'Bye Bye Love', 'All I Have To Do Is Dream', 'Wake Up Little Susie' and 'Raining In My Heart' a hit for Buddy Holly. Other acts to record their song include Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Tony Bennett, Simon And Garfunkel, Sarah Vaughan, Grateful Dead, Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello, Count Basie, Dean Martin, Ruth Brown, Cher, R.E.M. and Ray Charles.
21 Nov 1995
Legendary manager of Led Zeppelin Peter Grant died from a heart attack aged 60. Known as being one of the shrewdest and most ruthless managers in rock history, Grant secured 90% of concert gate money and intimidated record store owners who dealt in bootlegs. The former wrestler, also worked as a film extra and bodyguard. During the early 60’s Grant worked as a tour manager for Bo Diddley, The Everly Brothers, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and The Animals.
28 Apr 1990
Guns N' Roses leader Axl Rose married Erin Everly, daughter of The Everly Brothers Don at Cupid's Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. They divorced in January 1991 after a stormy nine months of marriage.
25 Jun 1987
Songwriter Boudleaux Bryant died. Wrote with his wife Felice, The Everly Brothers hits, 'Bye Bye Love', 'All I Have To Do Is Dream', 'Wake Up Little Susie' and 'Raining In My Heart' a hit for Buddy Holly. Other acts to record their song include Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Simon And Garfunkel, Grateful Dead, Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Dean Martin, Ruth Brown, Cher, R.E.M. and Ray Charles.
14 Jul 1973
During a The Everly Brothers concert at Knott’s Berry Farm’s John Wayne Theater, Phil Everly smashed his guitar and stormed off stage marking the end of the duo.
8 Jul 1970
The Everly Brothers Show, started an eleven-week prime time slot on ABC- TV in the US. It began as a summer replacement in 1970 for The Johnny Cash Show.
13 Feb 1969
Bob Dylan recorded versions of 'Lay, Lady, Lay', at Columbia Recording Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. 'Lay Lady Lay' was originally written for the soundtrack of the movie Midnight Cowboy, but wasn't submitted in time to be included in the finished film. The song has gone on to become a standard and has been covered by numerous bands and artists over the years, including The Byrds, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, The Everly Brothers, Neil Diamond, Melanie, The Isley Brothers, Duran Duran, Hoyt Axton and Isaac Hayes amongst others.
4 Nov 1963
The night after The Rolling Stones had just come off a 30-date UK tour with The Everly Brothers, they kicked off another 50-date UK club tour at the Top Rank Ballroom in Preston.
29 Oct 1963
The Everly Brothers, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Mickie Most, The Rolling Stones, Julie Grant and The Flintstones all appeared at The Goumont Theatre, St Albans, England.
23 Oct 1963
The Everly Brothers, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Mickie Most, The Rolling Stones, Julie Grant and The Flintstones all appeared at Odeon Theatre, Nottingham, England.
18 Feb 1962
On weekend leave from marine training, The Everly Brothers appeared on the US Ed Sullivan show, in full uniform and with regulation cropped hair, singing their new single, 'Crying In The Rain'.
2 Mar 1961
The Everly Brothers had their third UK No.1 single with 'Walk Right Back' a song written by Sonny Curtis of The Crickets.
20 Oct 1960
Roy Orbison had his first UK No.1 single with 'Only The Lonely' and his first of 33 hits. The song was turned down by The Everly Brothers and Elvis Presley so Orbison decided to record the song himself.
28 Jul 1960
Roy Orbison entered the UK chart with 'Only The Lonely', which went on to give Roy his first of three UK chart toppers. As an operatic rock ballad, it was a sound unheard of at the time, and is seen as a seminal event in the evolution of Rock and Roll. Released as a 45rpm single by Monument Records in May, 1960, 'Only The Lonely' went to No. 2 on the United States. The song was turned down by The Everly Brothers and Elvis Presley, so Orbison decided to record the song himself.
25 Jul 1960
Roy Orbison reached No.2 on the US singles chart with ‘Only the Lonely,’ his first hit. The song was turned down by The Everly Brothers and Elvis Presley, so Orbison decided to record the song himself.
23 May 1960
The Everly Brothers started a five week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Cathy's Clown', which also spent seven weeks at No.1 in the UK. It became the Everly Brothers' biggest hit single and their third and final US chart topper, selling eight million copies worldwide.
30 Apr 1960
The Everly Brothers started a seven week run at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Cathy's Clown', giving Warner Bros a No.1 with their first release.
24 Aug 1959
In the US, a headline in Billboard magazine read, "Rock and Roll Ain't Ready For The Ol' Rockin' Chair Yet." The story stated that Rock 'n' Roll was losing popularity a year ago, but the record buyers now like Elvis Presley, Lloyd Price and Fats Domino along with newcomers, The Everly Brothers, The Drifters and Ricky Nelson.
4 Jul 1958
The Everly Brothers held the UK No.1 position with 'All I Have To Do Is Dream.' The Duo's first No.1 single was recorded in just two takes and features Chet Atkins on guitar. The song was written by the husband and wife songwriting team Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.
12 May 1958
The Everly Brothers started a four-week run at No.1 in the US with 'All I Have To Do Is Dream'. Written by the husband and wife songwriting team Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, the track was recorded in just two takes.
20 Feb 1958
Billed as 'The Big Gold Record Stars' Bill Haley and his Comets, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly & The Crickets, Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmie Rodgers all appeared on the first date of a six day tour of Florida.
8 Jan 1958
The Everly Brothers kicked off a 17 date North American tour at the Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. Also on the bill, Buddy Holly, The Rays, Royal Teens, Shepherd Sisters, Paul Anka, Margie Rayburn and
Danny & The Juniors.
14 Oct 1957
Although it was banned by some US radio stations for its suggestive lyrics, The Everly Brothers had their first No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Wake Up Little Susie', (a No.2 hit in the UK).
16 Sep 1957
The Biggest Show Of Stars package tour kicked off at Brooklyn Paramount featuring: Buddy Holly & The Crickets, The Drifters, The Everly Brothers and Frankie Lymon. On some dates, artists were unable to play because of segregation laws.
12 Feb 1956
Dean Martin was at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Memories Are Made Of This'. The American actor, comedian, singer and TV hosts biggest hit. Also covered by The Everly Brothers, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra and The Driffters.
9 Nov 1955
The Everly Brothers made their first studio recordings cutting four tracks in 22 minutes, at Nashville's Old Tulane Hotel studios. Family friend Chet Atkins engineered a chance for The Everly Brothers to record for Columbia Records in early 1956. However, their first and only single for the label, 'Keep A' Lovin' Me', was a flop, and they were quickly dropped from Columbia.
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