January 19, 1939 – January 3, 2014
Phil Everly, along with his brother Don Everly, are considered the must influential vocal duo pop music has ever known. Working together as the Everly Brothers, they created such seamless and glorious harmonies that no less than members of the Byrds, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys have preached their influence ever since. Born in Chicago, Illinois to a musical family, Phil learned to play the guitar at an early age. Family patriarch, Ike Everly was a respected professional musician himself, so the boys were introduced to music as a way of life while still in their childhood. Ultimately settling in Knoxville, Tennessee, the Everly family performed as a group throughout the area for many years. By the early ’50s, Phil and Don were working as a duo, making an early believer out of Chet Atkins who helped then secure their first recording contract with Columbia Records. Their first single, “Keep A’ Lovin’ Me,” performed less than spectacularly, so Columbia dropped them. Before they knew it, Acuff-Rose Publishing snatched Phil and Don up as songwriters while Roy Acuff helped land them a deal with Cadence Records. From there, the Everly Brothers’ career skyrocketed. Their first release for Cadence, “Bye Bye Love” shot to #2 on the pop charts, #1 on the country charts, and #5 on the R&B charts. What followed that million-seller was a string of hits that helped define the era. Records like “Wake Up Little Susie,” “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” and “Cathy’s Clown” earned the duo more than $35 Million dollars by 1962 – an astonishing sum at that time. After the British Invasion hit the U.S. in 1964, the Everly Brothers’ shine diminished as teenagers scrambled for the new sound by the likes of the Beatles, who ironically, might not have ever crossed the Atlantic if it weren’t for Phil and Don. By the dawn of the ’70s, the Everly Brothers had split up to pursue solo careers. Phil worked with likes of Warren Zevon and Roy Wood, and later scored a hit with “Don’t Say You Don’t Love Me No More,” a tune he wrote and performed with actress, Sondra Locke in the Clint Eastwood hit film, Every Which Way But Loose. In 1983, the Everly Brothers reunited for an acclaimed concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The show was recorded and the subsequent album returned the duo to the charts. Phil and Don continued to record and perform as a duo and individually well into the 2000s. In all, they scored 35 Billboard Top 100 singles, a record that still stands to this day. They were also recognized with nearly every musical award you could think of including being part of the first group of ten artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. On January 3, 2014, it was announced that Phil Everly died of pulmonary disease. He was 74.
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