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The Everly Brothers were American country-influenced rock and roll singers, known for steel-string guitar playing and close harmony singing. The duo, consisting of Isaac Donald "Don" Everly (born February 1, 1937) and Phillip "Phil" Everly (January 19, 1939 – January 3, 2014), were elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. Their parents were Isaac Milford "Ike" Everly (1908–1975), a guitar-player, and Margaret Embry Everly. The Everly Brothers grew up in Shenandoah, Iowa, from ages 5 and 7 through early high school. The family then moved to Knoxville, Tennessee.
Ike Everly had a show on radio stations KMA and KFNF in Shenandoah in the 1940s, with his wife and two young sons. Singing on the show gave the brothers their first exposure to the music industry. The family sang together and lived and traveled in the area singing as the Everly Family. Ike, with guitarists Merle Travis, Mose Rager, and Kennedy Jones, was honored in 1992 by the construction of the Four Legends Fountain in Drakesboro, Kentucky.
While living in Knoxville, the brothers continued their musical development and first caught the attention of family friend Chet Atkins. As they transitioned out of the family act and into a duo, Atkins became an early champion of the Everly Brothers. Despite his affiliation with RCA Records, it was Atkins who arranged a chance for the Everly Brothers to record for Columbia Records in early 1956. However, their first and only single for Columbia, "Keep A' Lovin' Me," was a flop, and they were quickly dropped from the label.
Atkins still encouraged the Everly Brothers to continue, and introduced them to Wesley Rose of Acuff-Rose music publishers. Impressed with the duo's songwriting talents, Rose told them that if they signed to Acuff-Rose as songwriters, he would also get them a recording deal. The duo signed to Acuff-Rose in late 1956, and by early 1957, Rose had introduced them to Archie Bleyer, who was looking for artists for his Cadence label. The Everlys signed, and entered the recording studio for their first Cadence session in February 1957.
Their first Cadence single, "Bye Bye Love," had been rejected by 30 other acts but the Everlys saw potential in the song. Their recording of "Bye Bye Love" reached No. 2 on the pop charts. The song, written by the husband and wife team Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, became the Everly Brothers' first million-seller.
They became stalwarts of the Cadence label. Working with the Bryants, the duo had hits in the United States and the United Kingdom, the biggest being "Wake Up Little Susie", "All I Have to Do Is Dream", "Bird Dog", and "Problems," all penned by the Bryants. The Everlys also found success as songwriters, especially with Don's "(Till) I Kissed You", which hit No. 4 on the United States pop charts.
The brothers toured extensively with Buddy Holly during 1957 and 1958. According to Holly biographer Philip Norman, they were responsible for the change in style for Holly and the Crickets from Levi's and T-shirts to the Everlys' sharp Ivy League suits. Don claimed Holly to be a generous songwriter who wrote the song "Wishing" for them, while Phil later stated: "We were all from the South. We'd started in country music." Phil Everly was one of Holly's pallbearers at his funeral in February 1959. Don did not attend, later saying "I couldn't go to the funeral. I couldn't go anywhere. I just took to my bed."
After three years on the Cadence label, the Everlys signed with Warner Bros. Records in 1960, for a reported 10-year, multi-million-dollar deal. They continued to have hits and their first for Warner Brothers, 1960's "Cathy's Clown" (written by Don and Phil), sold eight million copies, making it the duo's biggest-selling record. "Cathy's Clown" was number WB1, the first release in the United Kingdom by Warner Bros. Records. Other successful Warner Brothers singles followed in the United States, such as "So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)" (1960, Pop No. 7), "Walk Right Back" (1961, Pop No. 7), "Crying In The Rain" (1962, Pop No. 6), and "That's Old Fashioned" (1962, Pop No. 9, their last Top 10 hit). From 1960 to 1962, Cadence Records also continued to release Everly Brothers singles from the vaults: these included the Top Ten hit "When Will I Be Loved" (written by Phil, Pop No. 8) and the Top 40 hit "Like Strangers," as well as lower-charting singles.
In the UK, they were arguably more successful with Top 10 hits until 1965, including "Lucille/So Sad" (1960, No. 4), "Walk Right Back/Ebony Eyes (1961, No. 1), "Temptation" (1961, No. 1), "Cryin' In The Rain" (1962, No. 6) and "The Price of Love" (1965, No. 2). In total they placed 18 singles into the UK Top 40 with Warner Brothers in the 1960s.
By 1962, the Everly Brothers had earned $35 million from record sales. However, shortly after signing with Warner Brothers, the Everlys fell out with their manager Wesley Rose, who also administered the Acuff-Rose music publishing company. As a result, for a period in the early 1960s, the Everlys were shut off from Acuff-Rose songwriters. These included Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, who had written the majority of the Everlys' hits, as well as Don and Phil Everly themselves, who were still contracted to Acuff-Rose as songwriters and had written several of their own hits. With proven sources of hit material unavailable, from 1961 through early 1964, the Everlys recorded a mix of covers and songs by other writers in order to avoid paying royalties to Acuff-Rose. They also used the collective pseudonym "Jimmy Howard" as writer and/or arranger on two tracks, a move that was ultimately unsuccessful, as Acuff-Rose legally assumed the copyrights to these songs once the ruse was discovered.
By the end of the 1960s, the Everly Brothers returned to an emphasis on their country-rock roots, and their 1968 album Roots is touted by some critics as "one of the finest early country-rock albums." However, by the end of the 1960s, the Everly Brothers were no longer hitmakers in either North America or the United Kingdom, and in 1970, following an unsuccessful live album (The Everly Brothers Show), their contract with Warner Brothers lapsed after ten years. In 1970, they were the summer replacement hosts for Johnny Cash's television show. In 1970, Don Everly released his first solo album, but it was not a success. The Everly Brothers resumed performing in 1971, and signed a contract with RCA Victor Records, for whom they issued two albums in 1972 and 1973. They then decided to take time off from performing, announcing their final performance together would be on July 14, 1973, at Knott's Berry Farm in California. Unfortunately, high tensions between the two began to surface during the show until Phil smashed his guitar and stormed off the stage, while Don finished the show, ending their collaboration. Reportedly, they did not speak to each other for almost a decade, except at their father's funeral in 1975.
The brothers got back together in 1983. Their reunion concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London on September 23, 1983, was initiated by English guitarist Albert Lee (who was also the concert's musical director). This concert spawned a well-received live LP and video. The brothers then returned to the studio as a duo for the first time in over a decade, resulting in the album EB '84, produced by Dave Edmunds. Lead single "On the Wings of a Nightingale," written by Paul McCartney, was a qualified success (Top 10 adult contemporary) and returned them to the United States Hot 100 (for their last appearance) and UK chart. They then earned a final charting country-music hit with "Born Yesterday" in 1986 from the album of the same name. During this time, Don's son, Edan Everly, would often join the Everly brothers on stage to sing and play guitar.
Even though the brothers had not produced studio albums since 1989's Some Hearts, they toured and performed. They collaborated with other performers, usually singing either backup vocals or duets. Phil was especially active in this regard. In 1990, he recorded a vocal duet with Dutch singer René Shuman. "On Top of the World" was written by Phil and appeared in the music video they recorded in Los Angeles. The track appeared on Shuman's album Set the Clock on Rock. In 1994, a 1981 live BBC recording of "All I Have to Do Is Dream," featuring Cliff Richard and Phil sharing vocals, was a UK Top-20 hit.
Phil provided backing vocals on the song "You Got Gold" from John Prine's 1991 album The Missing Years. Both the Everlys and Prine had family connections to Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, and Prine was a frequent performer at "The Everly Brother's Homecoming" concerts in Central City, Kentucky, over the years. The brothers joined Simon & Garfunkel as the featured act in Simon & Garfunkel's "Old Friends" reunion tour of 2003 and 2004. As a tribute to the Everly Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel opened their own show and had the Everlys come out in the middle. The live album of the tour, Old Friends: Live on Stage, contains Simon & Garfunkel discussing the Everlys' influence on their career and features all four performers joining in on "Bye Bye Love" (the subsequent DVD features two extra solo performances by the Everlys). For Paul Simon, it was not the first time he had performed with his heroes, as in 1986, the Everlys sang background vocals on the title track of Simon's album Graceland.
On January 3, 2014, Phil Everly died at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, just sixteen days prior to his 75th birthday. The cause of his death was complications attributed to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a combination of emphysema and bronchitis), brought on by a lifetime of smoking.
The Everly Brothers – CATHY’S CLOWN – (Don Everly & Phil Everly) – Recorded in 1960 for “A Date with The Everly Brothers” album. Reached # 1 in the US and UK.
The Everly Brothers – BIRD DOG – (Boudleaux Bryant) – First recorded in 1958 for “The Fabulous Style Of The Everly Brothers” – a UK release. Reached # 3 in the US.
The Everly Brothers – WAKE UP LITTLE SUSIE – (Boudleaux & Felice Bryant) – First recorded in 1957 for “The Everly Brothers” album. This was their first # 1 hit in the US.
The Beatles – SO HOW COME NO ONE LOVES ME – (Boudleaux & Felice Bryant) – Recorded in 1960 for “A Date with The Everly Brothers” album.
Simon & Garfunkel – BYE BYE LOVE – (Felice & Boudleaux Bryant) - First recorded in 1957 for “The Everly Brothers” album. Reached # 2 in the US. Their first hit single.
Linda Ronstadt – WHEN WILL I BE LOVED – (Phil Everly) – First recorded in 1958 for “The Fabulous Style Of The Everly Brothers” – a UK release. Reached # 8 in the US.
Buddy Holly & The Crickets – THAT’LL BE THE DAY – (Jerry Allison / Buddy Holly / Norman Petty) - Recorded in 1964 for their “Rock & Soul” album.
The Rolling Stones – NOT FADE AWAY - (Norman Petty / Buddy Holly) – Recorded in 1972 for their “Pass the Chicken & Listen” Album. Buddy Holly wrote this song for The Everly Brothers.
Joe Ely – OH BOY! – (Bill Tilghman / Sonny West / Norman Petty) – Recorded in 1967 for their “The Hit Sound of the Everly Brothers”.
Max Gomez – I’M MOVIN’ ON – (Hank Snow) – Recorded in 1967 for their “The Hit Sound of the Everly Brothers”.
Jimmy Dale Gilmore – I’M SO LONESOME I COULD CRY – (Hank Williams) – Recorded in 1963 for their “The Everly Brothers Sing Great Country Hits” album.
The Mavericks – HEY GOOD LOOKIN’ - (Hank Williams) – Recorded in 1967 for their “Chained To A Memory” album.
Dwight Yoakam – CLAUDETTE - (Roy Orbison) – Recorded in 1958 for “The Fabulous Style Of The Everly Brothers” album – a UK release.
Rick Nelson – I GOT A WOMAN – (Ray Charles) – Recorded in 1964 for their “Rock & Soul” album.
John Prine - PARADISE - (John Prine) - Recorded for their 1972 "Pass the Chicken and Listen" album.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – STORIES WE COULD TELL – (John B. Sebastian) – Recorded in 1971 for their “Stories We Could Tell” album.
Rockpile – CRYING IN THE RAIN – (Carole King/Howard Greenfield) – From their 1961 album “The Golden Hits of The Everly Brothers”.
Information provided by Wikipedia.