The Everly Brothers
The Everly Brothers got their start while they were incredibly young, becoming childhood sensations while performing with their family on the radio. Ike Everly, father of brothers Don and Phil Everly, played country music on the guitar and had connections to other musicians such as Chet Atkins and Merle Travis.
Through Ike’s influence, they were able to secure a gig at the Grand Ole Opry, showing off their ability to combine traditional conventions of country music with the rock and roll sound associated with the 1950s. Influenced by other brotherly duos such as the Blue Sky Boys and the Delmore Brothers, the Everly Brothers quickly became known in the 1950s for their rockabilly style.
Their unique sound had a major influence on other talented musicians who would enter the music scene in the 1960s. Paul McCartney and John Lennon used to refer to themselves as the “Foreverly Brothers.” Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, before they developed the folk style for which they are known today, had begun by performing rock music that was heavily influenced by the style of Don and Phil Everly.
This would eventually result in Simon and Garfunkel including the classic Everly Brothers hit “Bye Bye Love” on their 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water. An altered version of the same song was included on George Harrison’s 1974 album Dark Horse. The Everly Brothers also sang with Paul Simon on his song “Graceland,” on the 1986 album of the same name. Don and Phil would also tour with Simon and Garfunkel in 2003, despite having retired just three years prior.
“Bye Bye Love” is not by far the only hit song by the Everly Brothers. They had other major singles such as “Cathy’s Clown,” “Till I Kissed You,” “When Will I Be Loved,” “That’ll Be the Day” (originally by Buddy Holly), and one of their most famous singles of all time, “All I Have to Do Is Dream.” Many of their songs have been covered by other artists, from Simon and Garfunkel to Linda Ronstadt and Reba McEntire. They are also quite famous for the song “Wake Up Little Susie,” which has been covered by such diverse names as Donny Osmond, Simon and Garfunkel, and Grateful Dead. It was even covered on an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks.
The Everly Brothers spent most of the 1970s pursuing solo careers, but they reunited in 1983 and released an album the following year. Their influence on Paul McCartney paid off, as McCartney wrote the most popular single on the album “On the Wings of a Nightingale.” They would later sing the song “Cold” for a 1998 concept album entitled Whistle Down the Wind by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman, which contained tracks by singers such as Donny Osmond, Boy George, Tom Jones, Bonnie Tyler and Meat Loaf. In 2003 and 2004, they toured with long-time fans Simon and Garfunkel.
The Everly Brothers continued on and off, performing both solo and as a duo until 2014, at which point Phil Everly succumbed to lung disease. Although the duo is no more, their music is still well-known, as is their influence on Simon and Garfunkel, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Bee Gees and countless other musicians.
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