Revolutionary rock duo’s older brother Don Everly dies at 84


Both brothers played acoustic guitar, but it was their intimate vocal blend that gave their records a distinctive and enduring quality. Don, who had the lower voice of the two voices, usually sang lead, while Phil sang a slightly higher but unusually close harmony part.

“It’s almost like we can read each other’s minds when we sing,” Mr. Everly told the Los Angeles Times shortly after his brother’s death.

Despite the warmth of their voices, the brothers’ relationship grew increasingly strained as their careers progressed. Their radio successes dwindled as the 1960s wore on, and the two struggled with addiction. Don was hospitalized after overdosing on sleeping pills while the couple were touring Europe in 1962.

A decade later, after nearly 20 years on the road together, their long-standing tensions peaked. Phil broke his guitar and stormed backstage during a performance at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif., In 1973, leaving Don to complete the set and announce the duo’s breakup.

“The Everly Brothers died 10 years ago,” he told the audience, marking the end of an era.

Isaac Donald Everly was born February 1, 1937 in Brownie, Ky, not quite two years before his brother. Their mother, Margaret, and their father, Ike, a former coal miner, played country music in the South and Midwest before moving the family to Shenandoah, Iowa, in 1944. Shortly after arriving there- low, “Little Donnie” and “Baby Boy Phil”, then aged 8 and 6, made their professional debuts on a local radio station, KMA.

The family continued to perform on radio in Indiana and Tennessee before moving to Nashville in 1955, when the now teenage Everly brothers were hired as songwriters by the Acuff publishing house. Pink. Two years later, Acuff-Rose’s Wesley Rose would help them secure a recording deal with Cadence Records, an independent label in New York City, with which they had their first success as artists.


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