The Everly Brothers

The Everly BrothersFrom: Muhlenberg County, KY, USA

The Everly Brothers are an American country-influenced rock and roll duo known for their use of steel-string guitar and close harmony singing. The brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Don Everly was born in 1937 in Brownie, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. Two years later, Phil Everly was born in Chicago, Illinois. The Everly Brothers’ father, Ike Everly, was a musician himself, and was honored by the construction of the Four Legends Fountain in Drakesboro, Kentucky with Merle Travis, Mose Rager, and Kennedy Jones.

Ike Everly had a show on KMA and KFNF in Iowa in the 1940s with his wife and two sons. The show provided Don and Phil with the exposure they needed to gain a reputation within the music industry. While living in Knoxville, Tennessee, the brothers attended Know West High School, where they caught the attention of Chet Atkins. Eventually, Don and Phil Everly separated themselves from the family act. Although Chet Atkins was affiliated with RCA Records, he was responsible for helping the Everly Brothers get a chance to record for Columbia Records in early 1956. The Everly Brothers released the single “Keep A’ Lovin’ Me” for their first and only release on Columbia. The single was a flop, and the brothers were dropped from the label.

Chet Atkins still felt that the brothers had what it took to be successful, so he introduced them to Wesley Rose of Acuff-Rose music publishers. Rose was impressed with the Everly Brothers’ songwriting talents, and he offered to get them a recording deal if they signed with him as songwriters. They agreed and signed to Acuff-Rose in late 1956. In early 1957, Rose introduced the brothers to Archie Bleyer who was looking to sign artists for his Cadence Records label. The Everly Brothers signed with Cadence and recorded their first session in February ’57.

The first single written for Cadence was “Bye Bye Love.” The song had been rejected by some 30 other acts, but the brothers saw potential in the song. They recorded the song, and it reached #2 on the pop charts, behind Elvis Presley’s “Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear.” “Bye Bye Love” was written by husband and wife Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, and became the Everly Brothers’ first million-selling release. The brothers continued working with the Bryants, producing such hits as “Wake Up Little Susie,” “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” “Bird Dogs,” and “Problems.” The Everly Brothers also found success writing their own material, especially with Don’s “(Till) I Kissed You,” which reached #4 on the US pop charts.

During 1957 and 1958, the Everly Brothers toured with Buddy Holly, and according to Holly biographer Philip Norman, the brothers were responsible for the change in style for Holly and the Crickets. They changed the band from Levi’s and T-shirts to Ivy League suits. Don Everly called Holly a generous songwriter who wrote “Wishing” for the duo. Phil Everly was one of Holly’s pallbearers at his funeral in February 1959. Don did not attend the funeral, later saying “I couldn’t go to the funeral. I couldn’t go anywhere. I just took to my bed.”

In 1960, the Everly Brothers signed with Warner Bros. Records. They continued to have hits with Warner Bros. and their first release on the label, “Cathy’s Clown,” sold eight million copies, becoming the duo’s biggest-selling record. By 1962, the Everly Brothers had earned $35 million from record sales. The Everly Brothers were arguably more successful in the UK in terms of Top 10 hits.

Shortly after signing with Warner Bros., the brothers had a falling out with their manager Wesley Rose. As a result, the Everly Brothers were shut off from from Acuff-Rose songwriters. This included Felice and Boudleaux Bryant who wrote the majority of the duo’s hits. Don and Phil were cut off themselves, too. The period between 1961 to early 1964, the Everly Brothers recorded a number of covers and song by other writers so they could avoid paying royalties to Acuff-Rose. Around this time, the brothers set up their own record label, Calliope Records, to release independent solo projects. Don Everly released a big-band instrumental version of “Pomp and Circumstances” under the pseudonym Adrian Kimberly. The song was arranged by Neal Hefti and charted in the US top 40. Phil Everly formed a group called the Keestone Family Singers featuring Glen Campbell and Carole King. “Melodrama” was the band’s only single, and it failed to chart. By the end of 1962, Calliope Records shut down.

Throughout this time, the brothers never stopped working together. However, as time went on, their personal lives presented many new challenges. Both were addicted to speed for a period of time. Don’s condition was worse because he began taking the unregulated drug Ritalin. His addiction lasted three years before he was hospitalized for a nervous breakdown and help for his addiction. The Everly Brothers continued to record and tour, despite a waning interest in their music at the time of the British Invasion. Between 1973-1983, the brothers pursued solo careers before reuniting in ’83. The Everly Brothers will be remembered as one of the most important acts in rock and roll. They still perform on occasion, despite having declared their retirement.

Artist information sources include: Wikipedia

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From the 1967 album The Everly Brothers Sing
The Everly Brothers Sing

  • Talking To The Flowers