Paul Simon on The Everly Brothers:
The roots of the Everly Brothers are very, very deep in the soil of American culture. First of all, you should know that the Everly Brothers were child stars. They had a radio show with their family, and their father, Ike, was an influential country guitar player, so he attracted other significant musicians to the Everlys' world — among them Merle Travis and Chet Atkins, who was instrumental in getting the Everlys on the Grand Ole Opry. Perhaps even more powerfully than Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers melded country with the emerging sound of Fifties rock & roll. They were exposed to extraordinary country-roots music, and so they brought with them the legacy of the great brother groups like the Delmore Brothers and the Blue Sky Boys into the Fifties, where they mingled with the other early rock pioneers and made history in the process.
The Everly Brothers' impact exceeds even their fame. They were a big influence on John Lennon and Paul McCartney — who called themselves the Foreverly Brothers early on — and, of course, on Simon and Garfunkel. When we were kids, Artie and I got our rock & roll chops from the Everlys. Later, as Simon and Garfunkel, we put "Bye Bye Love" on Bridge Over Troubled Water, and much later, Phil and Don both sang on the song "Graceland."
Before the Everly Brothers joined Artie and me on the road in 2003, Phil and Don had actually quietly retired three years earlier. They basically came out of retirement for us. I said, "Phil, look, if you're going to retire, you might as well come out one more time and take a bow and let me at least say what it is that you meant to us and to the culture."
You know, the Everlys have a long history of knocking each other down, as brothers can do. So in a certain sense, it was hilarious that the four of us were doing this tour, given our collective histories of squabbling. And it's amazing, because they hadn't seen each other in about three years. They met in the parking lot before the first gig. They unpacked their guitars — those famous black guitars — and they opened their mouths and started to sing. And after all those years, it was still that sound I fell in love with as a kid. It was still perfect.
Paul Simon on Phil Everly'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.”
By Jon Pareles
Published: January 4, 2014
The group’s official website said he died in a hospital near his home in Southern California. His son Jason said the cause of death was complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
With songs like “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Bye Bye Love,” “Cathy’s Clown,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream” and “When Will I Be Loved?,” which was written by Phil Everly, the brothers were consistent hitmakers in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They won over country, pop and even R&B listeners with a combination of clean-cut vocals and the rockabilly strum and twang of their guitars.
They were also models for the next generations of rock vocal harmonies for the Beatles, Linda Ronstadt, Simon and Garfunkel and many others who recorded their songs and tried to emulate their precise, ringing vocal alchemy. The Everly Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its first year, 1986.
The Everlys brought tradition, not rebellion, to their rock ’n’ roll. Their pop songs reached teenagers with Appalachian harmonies rooted in gospel and bluegrass. Their first full-length album, “The Everly Brothers” in 1958, held their first hits, but the follow-up that same year, “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us,” was a quiet collection of traditional and traditional-sounding songs.
They often sang in tandem, with Phil Everly on the higher note and the brothers’ two voices virtually inseparable. That sound was part of a long lineage of country “brother acts” like the Delmore Brothers and the Monroe Brothers. In an interview in November, Phil Everly said: “We’d grown up together, so we’d pronounce the words the same, with the same accent. All of that comes into play when you’re singing in harmony.”
Paul Simon, whose song “Graceland” includes vocals by Phil and Don Everly, said in an email on Saturday morning: “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.”
The Everly Brothers’ music grew out of a childhood spent singing. Phillip Everly was born in Chicago on Jan. 19, 1939, the son of a Kentucky coal miner turned musician, Ike Everly, and his wife, Margaret. The family had left Kentucky, where Don Everly was born in 1937, for musical opportunities in Chicago. They soon moved on to Iowa, where Ike Everly found steady work playing country music on live radio. In Shenandoah, Iowa, Ike Everly got his own show — at 6 a.m. on the radio station KMA — and in 1945, “Little Donnie” and the 6-year-old “Baby Boy Phil” started harmonizing with their parents on the air. They went to school after they performed.
The Everly family moved on to radio shows in Indiana and Tennessee. In 1955 the teenage brothers settled in Nashville, where they were hired as songwriters before starting the Everly Brothers’ recording career.
They had a blockbuster in 1957: “Bye Bye Love,” a song written by the husband-and-wife team Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. It reached No. 1 on the country chart, No. 2 on the pop chart and No. 5 on the rhythm and blues chart, selling over a million copies. They followed it with another Bryants song, “Wake Up Little Susie,” that was a No. 1 pop hit and another million-seller. For the next few years, they were rarely without a Top 10 pop hit. Among them were “All I Have to Do Is Dream” in 1957, “Bird Dog” and “Devoted to You” in 1958, “(Till) I Kissed You” in 1959, and, in 1960 “Let It Be Me,” “Cathy’s Clown” (written by Don and Phil Everly) and “When Will I Be Loved.”
Their hitmaking streak ended in the United States in the early 1960s, lasting slightly longer in Britain. But they continued to tour and make albums, notably the 1968 “Roots,” a thoughtful foray into country-rock that included a snippet of a 1952 Everly family radio show. They had a summer variety series on CBS in 1970.
But the brothers were growing estranged. In 1973, at a concert in California, Phil Everly smashed his guitar and walked offstage, and Don Everly announced the duo’s breakup. They recorded solo albums for the next decade before reuniting in 1983, with a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London that was filmed as a documentary. They returned to the studio for a 1984 album, “EB84,” that was produced by the British pub-rocker Dave Edmunds and included a song written for the Everlys by Paul McCartney; they made two more studio albums in the 1980s.
Among musicians the Everlys had generations of admirers. The Beatles included Everly Brothers songs in their live sets and modeled the vocal harmonies of “Please Please Me” on “Cathy’s Clown.” The Beach Boys recorded the Everlys song “Devoted to You.” Linda Ronstadt had a Top 10 hit with “When Will I Be Loved” in 1975. On his four-album set “These Days” in 2006, the country songwriter Vince Gill recorded a duet with Phil Everly,“Sweet Little Corinna.”
Simon and Garfunkel included “Bye Bye Love” on their “Bridge Over Troubled Water” album, and years later brought together the Everly Brothers to be their opening act for their 2003 “Old Friends” tour. “I loved them both,” Mr. Simon wrote. “Phil was outgoing, gregarious and very funny. Don is quiet and introspective. When Simon and Garfunkel toured with the Everlys in 2003, Art and I would take the opportunity to learn about the roots of rock and roll from these two great historians. It was a pleasure to spend time in their company.”
The Everly Brothers played their last headlining tour in 2005 in Britain. They were also heard together on a 2010 album by Don’s son, Edan Everly, in a dark song about child stardom called “Old Hollywood.”
Phil Everly is survived by his brother and by their mother, Margaret Everly; his wife, Patti; his sons, Jason and Chris; and two granddaughters.
In 2013, younger musicians released two albums of Everly Brothers songs: “What the Brothers Sang” by Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie Prince Billy (the indie rocker Will Oldham), and “Foreverly” by Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, a remake of every song on “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.”
“The Everly Brothers go way back far as I can remember hearing music. Those harmonies live on forever,” Mr. Armstrong posted on Twitter.
“I always thought I’d be the one to go first,” Don Everly wrote in a statement to the Associated Press. “The world might be mourning an Everly Brother, but I’m mourning my brother Phil.”