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Guide Profile: The Everly Brothers

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The Everly Brothers: Phil and Don

The Everly Brothers: Phil and Don

Formed:

1954 (Knoxville, TN)

Genres:

Rock and Roll, Rockabilly, Pop, Country-Rock

Members:

Isaac Donald "Don" Everly (b. February 1, 1937, Brownie, KY): Vocals, Guitar; Philip "Phil" Everly (b. January 19, 1939, Chicago, IL): Vocals, Guitar

Contributions to music:

  • Brought the sound of Appalachian harmonies into rock and roll
  • Brought country pop towards the blues, instead of the other way around
  • Helped invent rock duo harmonies
  • Contained two of rock's earliest and best performing songwriters
  • Took a sly look at teenage romance in their music
  • Helped pioneer "country-rock" in the late Sixties
  • Influenced countless folk-rock, country-rock, and British Invasion groups

Early life:

Sons of an already-famous father, Ike, who performed country music with his uncles, Phil (at 6) and Don (at 8) began singing with him on radio shows throughout the Midwest (sometimes joined by their mother, Margaret). They soon gained quite a reputation, but when DJs began to replace live recording acts in the studios, the family packed up and moved to Knoxville, TN, and eventually gained the attention of famed Nashville producer Chet Atkins.

Success:

Atkins decided to groom the two youngsters as a duo act that could appeal to country and rock fans both, and in 1957 the Brothers hit big with a song called "Bye Bye Love" that no one in Nashville had known what to do with. Embraced by the pop, country, and R&B worlds, the duo followed their initial success with a string of classics. In 1960, the duo signed with Warner Brothers to attempt a slightly more polished sound, with equal success.

Later years:

The British Invasion took its toll on the fortunes of the group, though ironically, not in England, where the duo remained big stars. Despite Don's recent addiction to methamphetamines and a year-long stint in the Marines, they continued to make occasionally great records, culmimating a famously acrimonious split in 1973. Ten years later, the pair were persuaded to reunite for a famous concert at London's Royal Albert Hall, and have performed together off and on ever since.

Other Facts:

  • Their hit "Cathy's Clown" is based on a classical rhythm
  • The duo took acting classes at Warner Brothers' studios as part of their contract, yet a Everly Brothers film was never made
  • Their father is quite an influence on country guitarists, even leading to his own brand of strings
  • Don wrote "Thou Shalt Not Steal" for Kitty Wells when he was only sixteen
  • Was the first act to use drums at the Grand Ole Opry
  • Had a TV show called Johnny Cash Presents The Everly Brothers (ABC, 1970)

Awards/Honors:

Rock And Roll Hall of Fame (1986), Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1997), Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (2001), Country Music Hall of Fame (2001)

Important Songs:


#1 hits:
Pop:
  • "Wake Up Little Susie" (1957), "All I Have to Do Is Dream" (1958), "Bird Dog" (1958), "Cathy's Clown" (1960)
R&B:
  • "Wake Up Little Susie" (1957), "All I Have to Do Is Dream" (1958), "Cathy's Clown" (1960)
Country:
  • "Bye Bye Love" (1957), "Wake Up Little Susie" (1957), "All I Have to Do Is Dream" (1958), "Bird Dog" (1958)
Top 10 hits:
Pop:
  • "Bye Bye Love" (1957), "Problems" (1958), "('Til) I Kissed You" (1959), "Let It Be Me" (1960), "So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)" (1960), "When Will I Be Loved" (1960), "Ebony Eyes" (1961), "Crying In The Rain" (1962), "That's Old Fashioned (That's The Way Love Should Be)" (1962)
R&B:
  • "Bye Bye Love" (1957), "Bird Dog" (1958)
Country: "This Little Girl Of Mine (1958), "('Til) I Kissed You" (1959) Top 10 albums:
Pop:
  • It's Everly Time!, A Date With The Everly Brothers
Other important recordings: "Claudette," "Love Hurts," "Walk Right Back," "Gone, Gone, Gone," "Bowling Green," "On The Wings of a Nightingale"
Wrote or co-wrote: "Thou Shalt Not Steal," Kitty Wells
Covered by: Reba McEntire, Joan Jett, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Ray Charles, Simon and Garfunkel, John Denver, Tammy Wynette, Bob Dylan, a-ha, Nazareth, Cher, Heart, The Searchers, Gram Parsons, The Grateful Dead, Joe Cocker, Linda Ronstadt
Appears in the movies: "Every Which Way But Loose" (1978), "Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll" (1987)
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