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Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers Dies At Age 74

Updated on March 22, 2014
Phil Everly, 1960's
Phil Everly, 1960's | Source
The Everly Brothers, 1957
The Everly Brothers, 1957 | Source

Phil Everly

Published January 4, 2014, by Mary McShane

Phil Everly, half of the duo The Everly Brothers, died January 3, 2014 at the age of 74 at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, CA of complications from chronic pulmonary disease. His wife said he was a lifelong cigarette smoker.

Phil was born Chicago, Illinois on January 19, 1939 to Ike and Margaret Everly, a country western duo who had a radio show in Shenandoah, Iowa. Phil was two years younger than his brother Don. Throughout their childhoods, Don and Phil performed with their parents on their country music radio show, traveling around the South and Midwest.

As teens in the summer of 1955, they set their sights for Nashville, Tennessee. Soon after arriving, Roy Acuff's publishing company hired them both as songwriters. Don wrote "Thou Shalt Not Steal" sung by Kitty Wells and had a minor success.

Chet Atkins, popular country music star and friend of the family, arranged for The Everly Brothers to record their country single "Keep On Loving Me" for Columbia Records, which was a flop. They were dropped by Columbia and shortly after were signed with Cadence Records in 1957. When they recorded "Bye Bye Love" for songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, it became an international hit and Number Two on the music charts in the United States in 1957. The Bryants' record had been previously rejected over 30 times.

The Everly Brothers stayed with Cadence Records for three years producing four Number One hits: "Wake Up Little Susie," "All I Have to Do Is Dream," "Cathy's Clown," and "Bird Dog." They left the label after a royalties dispute.

The Everly Brothers were a little bit country, and a little bit rock and roll, long before Donny and Marie Osmond ever coined the phrase.

Phil and Don Everly had perfect pitch harmonies, Don as a baritone and Phil as a tenor. Their country music roots coupled with their rock and roll sound was their signature. Together they helped weaved the fabric of 1950s and 1960s music with their songs – “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Bye Bye Love,” “When Will I Be Loved” and “All I Have to Do is Dream.”

I have included two You Tube videos here: 1958 version and 2004 version of All I Have To Do Is Dream for vocal comparison.

Everly Brothers 1958

Same Song, 2004

The 60's and 70's

By 1960, they were signed with Warner Brothers Records producing hit singles: "So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)" (1960, No. 7), "Walk Right Back" (1961, No. 7), "Crying In The Rain" (1962, No. 6), and "That's Old Fashioned" (1962, No. 9, their last Top 10 hit).

From 1960 to 1962, Cadence Records also continued to release Everly Brothers singles including the top ten hit "When Will I Be Loved" (written by Phil, No. 8). Linda Ronstadt enjoyed great success when she recorded this song in 1975.

In Europe, they were more successful with top ten hits which included "Lucille/So Sad" (1960, No. 4), "Walk Right Back/Ebony Eyes (1961, No. 1), "Temptation" (1961, No. 1), "Cryin' In The Rain" (1962, No. 6) and "The Price of Love" (1965, No. 2). Altogether, they had 18 singles in the British Top 40 with Warner Brothers in the 1960s, earning them over $35 million just from record sales.

Their personal appearances with their band toured with Buddy Holly and The Crickets in 1957 and 1958. Phil Everly was a pallbearer at Buddy Holly's funeral in February 1959. His brother, Don, did not attend.

By the end of the 1960s, the Everly Brothers were no longer hitmakers in either North America or Europe, and in 1970 their contract with Warner Records lapsed after ten years.

In 1970, they were the summer replacement hosts forJohnny Cash's television show. That same year, Don Everly released his first solo album, but it was not a success. The Everly Brothers resumed performing in 1971, and signed a contract with RCA Victor Records, making two albums in 1972 and 1973.

The 80's onward

In 1978, Phil Everly appeared in Clint Eastwood's movie "Every Which Way but Loose." He wrote and sang "Don't Say You Don't Love Me No More" with co-star Sondra Locke.

Don Everly made a couple of records with some friends in Nashville, performed in local nightclubs, playing guitar and singing background vocals for other performers.

The Everly Brothers didn't escape the 70's and 80's unscathed. Both brothers were addicted to speed for some time. Don was hospitalized for a nervous breakdown. Their already stressed relationship grew more volatile at the John Wayne Theater at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California, on July 14, 1973. Phil smashed his guitar and stalked off stage, leaving Don to make the announcement that they were breaking up the duo.

It was reported that they didn't speak to each other for nearly ten years, except at their father's funeral. Their separate tries at going solo were basically unsuccessful, although Phil recorded a solo album in 1983 in London, enjoying some success in England.

In September 1983, at the prodding of a friend and band member, the Everly Brothers got back together for a videotaped reunion concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London. They began recording in the studio again for the first time in over ten years with songs by Paul McCartney, and Simon & Garfunkel. In 1986, they both sang background vocals for Paul Simon's album, Graceland.

Don Everly said in a 1986 Associated Press interview that the two were "successful because we never followed trends. We did what we liked and followed our instincts. Rock `n' roll did survive, and we were right about that. Country did survive, and we were right about that. You can mix the two but people said we couldn't."

In 1997, The Everly Brothers were given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys. In 2001, they were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and in 2004 into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. Also in 2004, they performed a concert for Kentucky Flood Relief and were given a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

Phil Everly sang a duet with Vince Gill "Sweet Little Corrina," for his album "These Days" in late 2006. Shortly after he formed his own musical instrument company, Everly Music Company,with his oldest son, Jason Everly. Phil continued to do some concerts with his brother but their relationship was never the same as it was in the early years. They formed The Everly Brothers Foundation, supported with much of the proceeds of their concerts.

In a career that covered five decades, performing separately from 1973 to 1983 and reuniting in 1983, they enjoyed popularity in the United States and in Europe. In their heyday between 1957 and 1962, they had 19 top 40 hits. Their most popular song written which they co-wrote was "Cathy's Clown." The sales exceeded $2 million from that record.

Phil Everly leaves behind his wife, Patti, his brother, Don, their mother, Margaret, two sons Jason and Chris, and two granddaughters.

© Mary McShane

© 2014 Mary McShane


Submit a Comment
  • Mary McShane profile imageAUTHOR

    Mary McShane 

    5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    @Jodah, thank you for your comment :)

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 

    5 years ago from Queensland Australia

    Thank you for writing this hub Mary. I hadn't heard of Phil Everly's passing. I enjoyed the music of the Everly Brothers and thought their harmonies amazing. Well written and informative. Voted up.


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