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The Everly Brothers (Don Everly, born Isaac Donald Everly February 1, 1937, Brownie, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, Phil Everly, born Phillip Everly, January 19, 1939, Chicago, Illinois) are male siblings who were top-selling country-influenced rock and roll performers, best known for their steel-string guitar playing and close harmony singing. The Everlys are the most successful charting U.S. rock and roll duo on the Hot 100. Their greatest period of chart success came between 1957 and 1964.
Their father Ike Everly was a musician in his own right. Ike, along with Merle Travis, Mose Rager, and Kennedy Jones, was honored by the construction of The Four Legends Fountain in Drakesboro, Kentucky. Read Full Bio >>
The brothers were both competent guitarists, and used a simple style of harmony mostly based on parallel thirds. With this approach, each line can often stand on its own as a plausible melody line. This is in contrast to classic harmony lines which, while working well alongside the melody, would sound strange if heard by themselves. One of the best examples of their close-harmony work is their recording of "Devoted to You".
The duo's approach to harmony singing had a strong influence on the rock and roll groups of the 1960s. For example, both The Beatles and The Beach Boys developed their early singing style by performing Everlys covers. The Beatles based the vocal arrangement of their song "Please Please Me" directly upon that of "Cathy's Clown."
Guitarist Ike Everly had an Iowa radio show in the 1940s. Singing appearances on their father's show gave the brothers their first exposure. The Everly Brothers recorded their own first single, "Keep A' Lovin' Me", in 1956, under the aegis of Chet Atkins, but it flopped. However their next single, "Bye Bye Love", (which had been rejected by 30 other acts, including Elvis Presley), became an across-the-board smash, reaching #2 on the pop charts (behind Presley's "Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear"), while hitting #1 on both the Country and the R&B charts. The song, written by the husband-and-wife songwriting team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, became the Everly Brothers' first million-seller.
They soon became known as the stalwarts of Archie Bleyer's Cadence Records label. Working with the Bryants, the harmonic duo had a number of hits in the United States and the United Kingdom, the biggest of which were "Wake Up Little Susie", "All I Have to Do Is Dream", and "Bird Dog".
Signing with Warner Bros. Records in 1960, they continued to have hits. Their first with WB, 1960's "Cathy's Clown" (written jointly by Don and Phil) launched the brothers back to the top of the charts. The song, which sold eight million copies, was the duo's biggest-selling record. It was released as number WB1, the first release in the United Kingdom by Warner Brothers Records.
Other successful Warner Brothers singles followed, such as "Walk Right Back" (1961), and "Crying In The Rain" (1962). As well, Cadence Records continued to release Everly Brothers singles from the vaults: these singles included the top ten hit "When Will I Be Loved" (written by Phil) and the top 40 hit "Like Strangers", as well as several other lower-charting singles.
However, shortly after signing with Warner Brothers, the Everlys had a falling out with their manager Wesley Rose, who also administered the Acuff-Rose music publishing company. Consequently for a period of time in the early 1960s, the Everlys were shut off from using Acuff-Rose songwriters. These songwriters included Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, who had written the majority of the Everlys' hits to that time, as well Don and Phil Everly themselves, who were also contracted to Acuff-Rose as songwriters and had written several of their own hits.
With the proven sources of hit material unavailable to them, the Everlys recorded a mix of covers and songs crafted for them by other writers. However their last U.S. Top Ten hit was 1962's "That's Old Fashioned"; after that, they would never again reach the U.S. top 30, and the succeeding years saw the Everly Brothers selling many fewer records than before in the United States. Their enlistment in the United States Marine Corps beginning in November 1961, also took them out of the spotlight for a time. Though it's sometimes reported that The Everly Brothers were swept aside in America due to the rise of The Beatles and the British Invasion in 1964, the truth is that, at least in America, their star had begun to wane two full years before — although their appeal remained strong in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and elsewhere.
In 1962, Warner Brothers released a Golden Hits album which included only their Warner Brothers hits. The 1964 album The Very Best Of The Everly Brothers included new versions of six of their Cadence hits (re-recorded in Nashville), along with six of the original Warner Brothers hits. Some of these re-recordings are sometimes played and mistaken for the originals, such as "Devoted to You" and "Til I Kissed You". In 1963, Cadence released a more complete album of those original hits, titled 15 Everly Hits.
After their Marine Corps experience the brothers resumed their career, but U.S. chart success was limited. Singles and albums continued to be released, but of the 27 singles the Everly Brothers released on Warner Brothers from 1963 through 1970, only three made the Hot 100, and none peaked higher than #31. However, The Everlys had more success in Britain and Canada in that period, consistently reaching the top 40 in the United Kingdom with a string of singles through 1965, and hitting the top 10 in Canada as late as 1967.
The album title In Our Image referred to their influence on a new era of singers like the Beatles, who were inspired by their harmony. The album Two Yanks in England was recorded there with backup by The Picks, and is a reflection of their success there, and a gesture of camaraderie with the new wave. Their 1968 album Roots is touted by some formal critics as a superior example of their music, 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 their contract with Warner Bros. 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 together in 1971, and signed a recording contract with RCA Records at around the same time.
The duo had a memorable split on July 14, 1973, as Phil Everly smashed his guitar and stormed offstage during a concert at Knotts Berry Farm in California, leaving brother Don to finish the concert by himself. Don Everly told the crowd, "The Everly Brothers died ten years ago." In reality, due to growing tension, The Everly Brothers had already planned the Knotts Berry show to be their last performance. Many believe the tense mood of the show had been caused by the band having a few drinks before the show. After the split, the brothers would not speak to each other for the next 10 years, only getting together once in 1975 for their father's funeral. While to this day, they rarely comment on their break-up, they had stated in interviews that the 10-year period that they did not speak to each other gave them a chance to find themselves and become older and wiser.
The brothers reformed in 1983 with a new album produced by Dave Edmunds. "On the Wings of a Nightingale", written by Paul McCartney for the brothers, was a minor success and returned them to the U.S. and UK charts. Their reunion concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London on September 22, 1983, which was instigated by English virtuoso guitarist Albert Lee (who was also the musical director), resulted in both a well-received CD and video. 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.
At around the same time, Phil enjoyed some success as a soloist, with an album Phil Everly, recorded mainly in London, and including musicians such as Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler, Rockpile drummer Terry Williams, and evergreen session keyboard player Pete Wingfield. "She Means Nothing To Me", featuring Cliff Richard as co-lead vocalist, was a UK Top 10 hit, and "Louise" reached the Top 50 in 1983. In 1994, a new recording of "All I Have to Do Is Dream", featuring Cliff Richard and Phil sharing vocals, was a U.K. Top 20 hit.
Even though the brothers have not produced any new studio albums since 1989's Some Hearts, they continue to tour and perform. Throughout their careers they have collaborated extensively with other performers, usually singing either backup vocals or duets. For example, Don Everly recorded a duet with Emmylou Harris in 1979, "Everytime You Leave", on her album Blue Kentucky Girl In 2006, Phil Everly sang a duet, "Sweet Little Corrina", with country singer Vince Gill on his album These Days. He previously supplied harmony vocals on J.D. Souther's "White Rhythm and Blues" on his 1979 album You're Only Lonely.
In 1999 Don Everly and his son Edan Everly did a benefit show billed as The Everly Brothers for Kentucky flood relief.
The Everly Brothers have had a total of 26 Billboard Top 40 singles and 35 Billboard Top 100 singles. They still hold the record for the most Top 100 singles by any duo, and trail only Hall and Oates for the most Top 40 singles by a duo. (Hall and Oates had 29 singles in the top 40, all between 1976 and 1990.)
In 1986, the Everlys were among the first 10 artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During the induction ceremony, they were introduced by Neil Young, who observed that every musical group he ever belonged to had tried and failed to copy the Everly Brothers' harmonies.
In 1997, they were awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition, they were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004. Their pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. The Everly Brothers have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7000 Hollywood Blvd. In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked The Everly Brothers #33 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time . They are also #43 on the list of UK Best selling singles artists of all time.
They were also accomplished songwriters, penning a number of their own hits, including "Till I Kissed You" (Don), "Cathy's Clown" (Don and Phil), and "When Will I Be Loved" (Phil). "Cathy's Clown" and "When Will I Be Loved" later became hits for Reba McEntire and Linda Ronstadt, respectively; (for the latter, the Everly Brothers even sang the back up chorus). Also, the Norwegian band a-ha covered "Crying In The Rain" in 1990 for their fourth album, East of The Sun, West of The Moon.
The Bee Gees have acknowledged the Everly Brothers on several occasions stating that they would sing in the style of the Everlys and then add a third harmony. This is evident on the Bee Gees' 1967 hit, "New York Mining Disaster 1941".
Paul McCartney paid tribute to the Everlys by mentioning "Phil and Don" in his 1976 million-seller, "Let 'em In".
They still perform occasionally, despite having declared their retirement from both touring and the studio more than once. Most notably, they joined Simon and Garfunkel as the featured act in the Simon and Garfunkel reunion tour of 2003 and 2004. As a special tribute to the Everly Brothers, they were not the opening act, rather Simon and Garfunkel opened their own show and had the Everlys come out in the middle for three or four songs. For Paul Simon, it was not the first time he had performed prominently with his heroes. In 1986, The Everlys sang background vocals on the hit title track of Simon's landmark album Graceland, the song he has named as his single greatest composition.
On Labor Day Weekend 1988, Central City Kentucky began hosting The Everly Brothers Homecoming event to raise money for a scholarship fund for Muhlenberg County students. The Homecoming became a popular annual event for fourteen years, before ending in 2002. Don and Phil successfully toured the United Kingdom in 2005 and Phil has appeared in 2007 on recordings with Vince Gill and Bill Medley. Rumors are also around that the Everly Family are currently putting together an album. Also in 2007, country singer Alison Krauss and former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant released "Raising Sand" which included a cover of the 1964 hit single, "Gone, Gone, Gone" with T Bone on lead.
Don Everly's daughter, Erin Everly , was briefly married to the controversial front man of Guns N' Roses, Axl Rose.
Rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis named his son, Everly, after the members of the band.
Throughout the 1950s, The Everly Brothers used Gibson J-200 guitars, some customized with dual white pickguards. In 1962, Gibson Guitar Corporation collaborated with the brothers to produce the Gibson Everly Brothers Flattop, a signature acoustic guitar.
Today, Phil Everly is heavily involved with his own musical instrument accessories manufacturing company. Everly Music Company produces products designed by Phil and Jason Everly, Phil's eldest son, for guitar and bass. << Less Bio