Two discordant personalities sang in perfect harmony

Remembering Phil Everly, the son of a Kentucky coal miner, who died on January 3, 2014, at the age of 74.

“Your sound, dear Phil, was my model of beauty and charisma when I was 14,” Art Garfunkel said in a tribute at the time. “You guided my musical development, my life. I always saw you up in Mt Rushmore, next to the other guys — a great hero of American culture.”

Harmony singing had been key in country and bluegrass, but starting with their first hit, 1957’s ‘Bye Bye Love,’the Everly Brothers brought the sound of deeply intertwined voices — and more than a hint of Appalachia — to rock and roll. That blend resulted in fifteen Top 10 hits between 1957 and 1962. The brothers were also a major influence on rock and roll, impacting on the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, the Mamas & the Papas, and many others. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

David Browne, Rolling Stone

“Every night on tour we were in the hotel rooms playing music and Don and Phil would be there with us,” said guitarist Waddy Wachtel, a member of the Everlys band in the early 1970s. “It was unbelievable. They’d start singing in the rooms and it was like the heavens would open up.”

In 1973, after a gig at Knotts Berry Farm in California, the two brothers broke up onstage in spectacular fashion, with Phil smashing his guitar down and storming off the stage.

After less than successful solo careers spanning 10 years, the Everly Brothers reunited onstage In 1983 at the London’s Royal Albert Hall.

They went on to record several studio albums in the 1980s, but rarely performed after the 1990s, and lived 2,000 miles apart — Phil in Los Angeles and Don in Nashville. Don Everly will be 83 on February 1st.

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Remembering Phil Everly
Phil and Don Everly, 1985.