Phil Everly, who with his brother Don formed a harmony duo that influenced rock ‘n’ roll singers for decades, has died. He was 74.
Everly died on Friday of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at a California hospital, his son, Jason Everly, said.
As The Everly Brothers, Phil and Don Everly helped draw the blueprint of rock ‘n’ roll in the late 1950s and 1960s with a high harmony that captured the yearning and angst of a nation of teenage baby boomers looking for a way to express themselves beyond the simple platitudes of the pop music of the day.
The Beatles, early in their career, once referred to themselves as “the English Everly Brothers”.
And Bob Dylan once said, “We owe these guys everything. They started it all.”
The Everlys’ hit records included the then-titillating Wake Up Little Susie and the universally identifiable Bye Bye Love, each featuring their twined voices with lyrics that mirrored the fatalism of country music and a rocking backbeat.
These sounds and ideas would be warped by their devotees into a new kind of music that would ricochet around the world.
In all, their career spanned five decades, although they performed separately from 1973 to 1983. In their heyday between 1957 and 1962, they had 19 top 40 hits.
The two broke up amid quarrelling in 1973 after 16 years of hits, then reunited in 1983, “sealing it with a hug”, Phil Everly said.
Although their number of hit records declined in the late 1980s, they made successful concert tours in the US and Europe.
They were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, the same year they had a hit pop-country record, Born Yesterday.
Phil Everly was born to Ike and Margaret Everly, who were folk and country music singers, on January 19, 1939, two years after his brother Don.
The brothers began singing country music in 1945 on their family’s radio show in Shenandoah, Iowa.
Their career breakthrough came when they moved to Nashville in the mid-1950s and signed a recording contract with New York-based Cadence Records.
Their break-up came dramatically during a concert at Knott’s Berry Farm in California.
Phil Everly threw his guitar down and walked off, prompting Don Everly to tell the crowd, “The Everly Brothers died 10 years ago.”
During their breakup, they pursued solo singing careers with little fanfare.
Phil also appeared in the Clint Eastwood movie Every Which Way but Loose.