Saturday, January 4, 2014

Phil Everly Has Died

Phil Everly, who along with brother Don was a groundbreaker in the Rock Era as the Everly Brothers, has died at the age of 74.

Patricia Aidem, spokeswoman at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, confirmed his death yesterday.  Everly died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease due to a lifetime of smoking, according to a story in The Los Angeles Times.
The Everly Brothers featured pitch-perfect harmonies that had tremendous influence on everyone who followed them.  Among those influenced by the duo:  the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, the Bee Gees, the Hollies and the Eagles, among many, many others.  The Everly Brothers were certainly one of The Top Duos of the Rock Era*, and of all-time, but they were without question the most important. 

Phil and Don were the sons of Ike and Margaret Everly, country and western singers themselves.  The brothers initially sang with their parents in live performances and on radio.  In the mid-'50's, Phil and Don moved to Nashville, Tennessee to began their career as songwriters, before signing a recording contract with Cadence Records. 

The Everly Brothers accomplished the rare feat of releasing what turned out to be a classic with their first 45, "Bye Bye Love", in 1957.  It rocketed to #2 for four weeks and immediately established the duo as a force to be reckoned with.  It remained a best-seller for 27 weeks, almost unheard of at the time, and sold over one million copies.

So great was the influence of the Everly Brothers on another of Rock's all-time best duos, Simon & Garfunkel, that the latter actually formed after hearing "Bye Bye Love":

"Bye Bye Love" was "the first thing that really killed me," Paul Simon once recalled. He called Art Garfunkel immediately upon hearing the song, according to a Simon biography, and the two set to work on their own act.

Simon & Garfunkel eventually began including "Bye Bye Love" in their concerts, and in later years, brought the Everly Brothers on stage so fans could hear two of the greatest duos in history perform the song together.

  The Everly Brothers' follow-up was even bigger.  "Wake Up Little Susie" became one of four career #1 songs, remaining at the top for four weeks and also going Gold.  It is still one of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.

Phil and Don released "All I Have to Do Is Dream" in 1958, and the public again responded by buying over one million copies of the record.  It went to #1 for five weeks, and is also one of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.

After hearing 'All I Have to Do Is Dream", the Beatles, which had just added George Harrison to the group, immediately wanted to cover it.  "When we first heard it ("All I Have to Do Is Dream"), it blew us away, Paul McCartney said in a new biography.  McCartney later paid tribute by mentioning "Phil and Don" in his 1976 hit, "Let 'Em In".

With Don's lower voice often in perfect diatonic thirds with Phil's higher voice, the brothers established a trademark sound.  "Bird Dog" also hit #1 that year and became their fourth Gold record.

The flip side of "Bird Dog" became another big hit, and is one of the best examples of their timeless harmonies.

The duo also landed in the Top 10 with "Problems", "('Til) I Kissed You", and "Let It Be Me", before scoring another member in The Top 500 Songs Club*--"Cathy's Clown".  That smash also reached #1 for five weeks and went Gold.

Other Top 10 hits included "When Will I Be Loved", "So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)", "Walk Right Back", "Ebony Eyes", "Crying in the Rain" and "That's Old Fashioned (That's The Way Love Should Be)".  In all, the Everly Brothers posted 37 hits, with 15 of those reaching the Top 10.  They had more Hot 100 hits than any other duo in history.

A complete Hits List* of the Everly Brothers can be found here:

In 1986, the Everly Brothers were one of the first ten acts inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Neil Young introduced them, and noted that every musical group he belonged to had tried and failed to copy the Everly Brothers' harmonies.

The Everly Brothers were presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997 at the Grammy Awards.  As Bob Dylan once said, "We owe these guys everything.  They started it all."
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Rest in Peace, Phil.  You will always be remembered as one of the greats!

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