Don and Phil Everly made their mark in rock and country music as The Everly Brothers.
Throughout their showbiz careers, Don and Phil Everly made beautiful music together as the hit-making, groundbreaking and genre-blending duo The Everly Brothers. They were instrumental in shaping the sound of 1950s and ‘60s rock-and-roll with such classics as “Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up, Little Susie,” “Cathy’s Clown,” “Bird Dog” and “All I Have To Do Is Dream” — The Beatles often cited the duo’s tight harmonies as major vocal influences — while often reaching the No. 1 spot on the country music charts. They were members of the inaugural class of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 — and inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
Shortly after Phil Everly’s death in 2014, Paul Simon told The New York Times: “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 ‘n’ roll.”
As New York Times writer Bill Friskics-Warren noted: “’Bye Bye Love,’ with its tight harmonies, bluesy overtones and twanging rockabilly guitar, epitomized the brothers’ crossover approach, spending four weeks at No. 2 on the Billboard pop chart in 1957. It also reached the top spot on the country chart and the fifth spot on the R&B chart.”
Don Everly was 84 when he passed away Saturday at his home in Nashville. Among the notables who paid him tribute:
Jerry Lee Lewis: “The Everly Brothers are integral to the fabric of American music. Very few of us can say we were around at the beginning, and even fewer can say we’re still here. With my friend Don’s passing, I am reflective… reflective on a life full of wonderful friends, spectacular music and fond memories. There’s a lot I can say about Don, what he and Phil meant to me both as people and as musicians, but I am going to reflect today. God Bless Don Everly and long live Rock and Roll music.”
Janie Fricke: “The sounds and images of the Everly Brothers have been greatly loved by most all Americans during that era of music, and special memories of them remain fresh in my mind. Their talent has been engraved across the world; many prayers for Don Everly’s family and loved ones.”
David Frizzell: “Sometime back I was presenting Don with a special Buddy Holly guitar for The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation. I was able to show Don the photo of him, his brother Phil and my brother Lefty and he said, ‘I remember taking the photo but never seen it. We are huge Lefty fans!’ Say Hello to your brother, my brother, and Heaven. God Bless The Everly’s!”
T. Graham Brown: “The Everlys made a huge impact on all of us singers. Their harmonies were impeccable. They had a huge impact on rock and roll’s early days. Their records are still classic examples of the art of choosing perfect songs that highlighted their talent. Don now joins Phil in rock and roll heaven. Rest in peace, pioneer!”
Joe Bonsall of The Oak Ridge Boys: “I listened to a lot of Nanci Griffith last week and I listened to a bunch of Tom T. Hall songs yesterday… Today I am cranking up some Everly Brothers… A lot of folks going home these days… Don joins Phil… BYE BYE LOVE!”
Duane Allen of The Oak Ridge Boys: “This week, we lost another icon of the music industry, Don Everly. Don and Phil Everly’s unique two-part harmonies made it difficult to decide which voice was singing lead. Each part was equally important. Rest in peace, Don, with your brother, Phil. And thank you, from those of us who love harmony singing.”
Don McLean: “The Everly Brothers were every bit as popular as Elvis. However, like most rock acts, they were on a small record label. Cadence Records made a fortune but they were in no way able to compete with RCA which is where Col. Parker put Elvis. I met the Everly Brothers in 1969 and asked them about Buddy Holly. Phil said Buddy took the plane so he could do his laundry. I think Buddy had other laundry to do as well. This started my thinking for ‘American Pie’ which I wrote later. Additionally, Don was a great lead singer and unique rhythm guitar player. Almost all their hits featured his rhythm guitar.”
TG Sheppard: “Don’s voice along with the incredible sounds of The Everly Brothers was one of the main reasons I decided on a career in music. He and his music truly influenced every singer for generations. Gone but never forgotten. R.I.P.”
Lee Greenwood: “So sad to hear about the passing of Don Everly. The music of the Everly Brothers helped me form my love for entertainment. First class of inductees to the Rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Fame, their blend of harmony was special and unique. RIP.”
JD Shelburne: “I am saddened by the passing of Don Everly… one of the smoothest voices to ever come from the Bluegrass state! The harmony of the Everly Brothers was so iconic growing up. I’ll never forget one of the greatest duos in history that hails from my home state.”