Born in Illinois in 1939, Phil Everly began performing as a child. He and his older brother Don appeared on their parents' radio shows growing up. The pair landed their first record deal in 1957. The Everly Brothers soon produced a series of hit songs, including "Bye Bye Love" and "All I Have to Do Is Dream." The pair split in 1973 and reunited a decade later. Everly died in California in 2014.
Born on January 19, 1939, in Chicago, Illinois, Phil Everly became a rock 'n' roll legend as half of the Everly Brothers. He was the second son of Ike and Margaret Everly, arriving nearly two years after his brother, Don. A former coal miner, his father had moved the family to Chicago to pursue his musical career by the time that Phil was born.
Everly grew up listening to the bluegrass and country music that his guitarist father played. Around the age of 6, he began performing with his parents and brother on a local radio show in Iowa. Phil and Don both learned to play the guitar and sing, thanks to their father. The Everly family moved several times for different radio job opportunities before Phil's and Don's career as a duo took off.
The Famous Everly Brothers
Phil and Don Everly started out in Nashville, Tennessee, as songwriters in the mid-1950s. In 1957, the brothers landed a record deal with Cadence Records. The pair soon scored their first hit with "Bye Bye Love," which topped the country charts and made the Top 5 on both the pop and R&B charts. The song showcased their trademark style, with Don singing the melody and Phil providing the harmony.
The Everly Brothers reached the top of the pop charts later in 1957 with "Wake Up Little Susie," another catchy fusion of country and rock sounds. More hits followed over the next few years, including "Bird Dog" and "All I Have to Do Is Dream." Demonstrating their songwriting talents, the Everly Brothers also penned some big songs themselves, including "('Til) I Kissed You" and "Cathy's Clown." The pair managed to capture a darker side of teen life in many of their songs.
The brothers' popularity became ebb as the musical tastes of the 1960s changed. Still, their harmonic singing style influenced many of the acts that followed, including the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel. In 1973, Phil Everly left the group after making an angry exit from the stage at a California show, and went on as a solo act. Phil released several albums on his own, including Phil's Diner (1974), Mystic Line (1975) and Phil (1983).
Also in 1983, Phil and Don Everly held a reunion concert in London. The pair returned to the studios as well, releasing EB 84 the following year. They had a hit with "On the Wings of a Nightingale," written by Paul McCartney. In 1986, the Everly Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for their musical achievements.
Death and Legacy
The Everly Brothers put out their last studio album, Some Hearts, in 1989. They continued to perform together over the years, however. During this time, the pair also received further recognition for their work, including a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 1997 and induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
On January 3, 2014, Phil Everly died of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Burbank, California. He was 74 years old. After learning the news, brother Don said in a statement, "I loved my brother very much," according to The Associated Press. He also referenced their bitter split, saying, "Our love was and will always be deeper than any earthly differences we might have had."
In addition to his brother, Phil Everly is survived by his wife, Patti, their two sons and two granddaughters. The music world joined with his family in mourning the passing of a rock 'n' roll pioneer. Singer-songwriter Paul Simon was among those who honored Phil Everly. According to The New York Times, he said, "Phil and Don were the most beautiful sounding duo I ever heard. ...The Everlys were there at the crossroads of country and R&B. They ... were part of the birth of rock and roll."
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