The Everly Brothers
Phil Everly – circa 1959
“I’ve been cheated / Been mistreated / When will I be loved?” – ‘When Will I Be Loved’ (Phil Everly)
The song has already been rejected by thirty acts. Boudleaux Bryant is a professional songwriter, but this particular composition – co-written with his wife, Felice – has become rather shop-worn. Still, his latest clients are, despite this, insistent that this is the song they want to record. Released on April Fool’s Day, 1 April 1957, ‘Bye Bye Love’ becomes the first hit single for The Everly Brothers.
A pair of siblings, The Everly Brothers is the professional name for Don Everly and Phil Everly.
Isaac Donald (‘Don’) Everly is born on 1 February 1937 in Brownie, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, U.S.A. His younger brother, Phillip (‘Phil’) Everly (19 January 1939-3 January 2014), is born in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Don and Phil Everly are the children of Isaac (‘Ike’) Milford Everly, Jr. (1908-1975) and his wife, Margaret Embry Everly. Ike Everly works as a coal miner in Kentucky from the time he is 14 years of age. However, Ike’s father also encourages him to pursue his love of music as a singer and guitarist. Ike is 26 years old when he weds his 15 year old bride, Margaret. Ike and Margaret begin singing together professionally. Their first child, Don, is born on 1 February 1937. The family moves to Chicago before Don is 2 years old. Ike has a job with the Works Progress Administration. He continues to perform as a guitarist in the evenings. Ike and Margaret’s second son, Phil, is born in Chicago on 19 January 1939.
Ike Everly begins performing with a country music group called The North Carolina Boys. This is the heyday of radio as the main purveyor of popular music in the U.S.A. The North Carolina Boys are featured on radio station KXCL. Although they are playing country music, Ike Everly has wider musical tastes than may be expected. His son Don recalls Ike checking out blues music in Chicago. Ike also owns an electric guitar and an amplifier. “Dad wouldn’t let me fool with his guitar much, because I’m left-handed, and I’d pick it up upside down,” Don recalls. (All photos of The Everly Brothers performing show both of them playing right-handed. Presumably, like many southpaws of that era, Don was taught to abandon his ‘wrong’ preference and learn to play guitar with his right-hand dominant.)
The Everly family moves to Iowa. Don and Phil attend Longfellow Elementary School in Waterloo, Iowa, for a year. In 1944 the family settles in Shenandoah, Iowa, where the boys will spend most of their childhood, right up to early high school. Ike Everly has his own radio show on KMA and KFNF in Shenandoah in the mid-1940s. At first, Ike performs his music with his wife, Margaret. Before long their sons are brought in to the program and the four of them perform as The Everly Family. Don Everly, the elder of the two boys, gets his own featured spot first. Subsequently, the kids are billed as ‘Little Donnie and Baby Boy Phil.’ At the time, Don is 9 years old and Phil is 7 years old. They perform ‘hillbilly gospel’ music and country and western tunes. Both boys play guitar and sing. The act plays live around the countryside as well as on radio.
In 1953 the Everly family relocates to Knoxville, Tennessee. Don and Phil attend West High School in Knoxville. Their father Ike Everly is a fan of Chet Atkins (born on 20 June 1924). In 1946 Chet Atkins is signed to the RCA Victor record label and his guitar instrumentals make him famous. Atkins’ reputation is further enhanced when he accompanies The Carter Family, who are famous in country music circles. Chet Atkins becomes part of the Grand Ole Opry radio show on WSM in Nashville, Tennessee. He starts playing guitar for recording sessions at RCA’s country music outpost in Music City, Nashville, in 1949. Chet Atkins is considered to be a ‘Tennessee picker’ who has become a ‘hotshot session guitarist.’ Atkins takes an interest in the Everly family.
While Don Everly is still in high school, Chet Atkins places a couple of Don’s compositions with other country music recording artists. U.S. country singer Kitty Wells is best known for her 1952 country hit ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels’ (US no. 27), a song that also registered on the pop charts. She records Don’s ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’ in 1954. Anita Carter records Don’s ‘Here I Go Again’ in 1955. The Everly Family radio show finishes in 1955. Ike Everly tries to learn to be a barber while his wife, Margaret, becomes a beautician. Somewhat embarrassingly, Don is earning a considerable part of the family income with his songwriting. “I was never really good at school,” admits Don, “and here I had made a thousand some dollars in royalties from my songs. So as soon as I graduated from high school, we packed the car up and high-tailed it to Nashville.”
Don Everly graduates from high school in 1955. His parents actually move from Knoxville to Madison, Tennessee, but Don and his 16 year old brother Phil move to Nashville. Phil attends a private educational facility in Nashville called the Peabody Demonstration School. Ike Everly joins the boys but then their father has to move north to find work.
Don Everly signs a contract as a songwriter with music publishers Hill and Range and, importantly, receives a cash advance on royalties.
Chet Atkins, the brothers’ mentor, helps Don and Phil Everly obtain a recording contract with Columbia. As 1955 gives way to 1956, the recording career of The Everly Brothers is about to begin.
The Everly Brothers is one of the acts that helps codify the elements of rock ‘n’ roll. “When we first started recording, it was before rock, so people thought we were hillbilly hicks,” claims Phil Everly. “The girls didn’t think we were cool.” Whether The Everly Brothers recording debut predates rock ‘n’ roll is an arguable point because there is no clear consensus on what was the first true rock ‘n’ roll record. Perhaps it is sufficient to acknowledge that, if rock ‘n’ roll does predate The Everly Brothers, it is still in its nascent stage. In the simplest terms, rock ‘n’ roll is a merger of country and western music with rhythm and blues music, a combination of – respectively – white and black cultures. It’s hard to deny that compared to most of their peers in rock’s early days, The Everly Brothers’ music is more towards the country (white) end of the spectrum. They exhibit the influence of earlier country artists like The Delmore Brothers, The Louvin Brothers and The Lilly Brothers. These performers earlier discovered the power and beauty of sibling vocal harmonies. The Everly Brothers ‘owe audible debts to Appalachian country music.’ (The Appalachian mountain range stretches across Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, West Virginia and North Carolina. In other words, it’s the same rural backwoods where Ike Everly worked as a coal miner.) The Everly Brothers are ‘not as raw as the wild rockabilly men from Sun Records’ (e.g. Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis). This should not be misconstrued to imply that The Everly Brothers have no business with rhythm and blues (black) music. Their father, Ike Everly, listened to blues music in Chicago and his sons share that appreciation. Similarly, Ike was no stranger to plugging in an amplifier and playing electric guitar even if, like Don and Phil, he is better known for playing acoustic guitar. So The Everly Brothers’ brand of rock ‘n’ roll is heavy on the country influence but still displays a strong beat that separates them from conventional country music.
Dark-haired Don Everly is five feet, ten inches tall. His younger brother, Phil, is more fair-haired and stands six feet tall. Don and Phil are ‘high tenors with about a third of a note’s difference between their voices.’ Less technically, Phil provides the high harmonies to Don who is, generally, the lower baritone lead vocalist. “That’s the charm of what The Everly Brothers are: two guys singing as one,” says Don. “Singing harmony is not the same as singing a part in a choral group,” explains Phil. “There are nuances that change every day,” he adds. Together, they ‘introduce the high, clean close harmonies of country singing to rock ‘n’ roll.’ Both brothers strum acoustic guitars and, as their fame grows so does their preferred instrument, the Gibson Jumbo acoustic guitar, gain in popularity.
Over the course of their whole career, the material recorded by The Everly Brothers divides fairly evenly between three different sources: (1) cover versions of songs recorded earlier by other artists; (2) songs written for The Everly Brothers by other songwriters; and (3) songs written by The Everly Brothers. In that final class, some songs are written by Don; some songs are co-written by Don and Phil; and some songs are written by Phil – sometimes with outside assistance.
The Everly Brothers’ first single is released by Columbia Records on 6 February 1956. This is ‘Keep A-Lovin’ Me’ backed with ‘The Sun Keeps Shining’. Allegedly, Don Everly is the author of these songs but, officially, Don and Phil Everly are jointly credited as co-writers. In comparison to later recordings, ‘Keep A-Lovin’ Me’ sounds very much like country music. It has twanging guitars, a sawing fiddle and brushes used on the drums. Crucially, the brothers’ distinctive harmony vocals are clearly present right from their first outing. This single ‘flops’, and fails to make the charts. Accordingly, The Everly Brothers are dropped by Columbia Records. It is not an auspicious beginning for them.
The Everly Brothers go on to audition for about ten different record company executives in a vain search for a new recording contract. Guitarist Chet Atkins still has faith in the duo and arranges a meeting for them with Wesley Rose. This fellow represents the music publishers Acuff-Rose. This outfit was formed by country music star Roy Acuff and Wesley’s father, Fred Rose. Wesley Rose is a college-educated former accountant from the oil industry. He wants to sign The Everly Brothers to Acuff-Rose because the company is trying to get into the new rock ‘n’ roll market and it is thought The Everly Brothers have some potential in that arena. The only sticking point is that Don Everly is still signed as a songwriter to Hill and Range. With Wesley’s Rose’s assistance, Don ‘quietly slips out’ of that arrangement. This move is probably assisted by The Everly Brothers’ first single having underperformed so, to at least some parts of the industry, The Everly Brothers don’t seem like a sound investment. With the promise of a new recording contract, Wesley Rose gets The Everly Brothers to sign a songwriting contract with Acuff-Rose in late 1956.
In 1957 publisher Wesley Rose introduces The Everly Brothers to record producer Archie Bleyer. He is the President of Cadence Records. This is a ‘small independent label’ which, at the time, is best known as the home of middle-of-the-road pop singer Andy Williams. Archie Bleyer comes to Nashville to see Wesley Rose since Acuff-Rose is one of ‘the industry’s most prestigious publishing house-management’ companies. Bleyer’s intent is to improve Cadence’s ‘flagging sales’ by creating a country and western division for Cadence. Acuff-Rose is known for country acts, but is grooming The Everly Brothers for the rock ‘n’ roll market. Nonetheless, Archie Bleyer is impressed by The Everly Brothers and signs them to Cadence. Their first single for that label is recorded on 1 March 1957 – but before it is released, another milestone is reached in Don Everly’s personal life.
On 25 March 1957 Don Everly marries Mary Sue (‘Sue’) Ingraham. She is described as Don’s ‘first sweetheart.’ Both Don and Sue are still under the age of 21 when they wed. Sue is three months pregnant. To avoid Tennessee’s legal prohibition against people under 21 marrying, Don and Sue have to elope to Ringgold, Georgia, for the wedding ceremony. Sue gives birth to a daughter, Mary Jr., in October 1957 but the baby dies shortly after birth. Don and Sue go on to have a second daughter, Venetia Ember (born on 16 April 1959). This child is named after a starlet named Venetia Stevenson whom Don met on the television variety program ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1957.
The first single by The Everly Brothers on the Cadence label is ‘Bye Bye Love’ (US no. 2, UK no. 6, AUS no. 14), released on 1 April 1957. ‘Bye Bye Love’ is written by the husband and wife songwriting team of Boudleaux Bryant and Felice Bryant. Boudleaux Bryant comes from the State of Georgia. Before becoming a songwriter, he started out as a classical violinist. His wife, Felice, sometimes co-writes with him. Felice was formerly an elevator operator in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Like The Everly Brothers, Boudleaux and Felice Bryant are songwriters contracted to the Acuff-Rose publishing house. Wesley Rose suggests The Everly Brothers should record one of Boudleaux Bryant’s songs since, at the time – and in comparison to The Everly Brothers – he is ‘a highly successful country and western songwriter.’ Bryant gives his new clients a look at a number of his compositions. The one the boys select, ‘Bye Bye Love’, has already been rejected by thirty acts. Consider ‘Bye Bye Love’ for a moment. In one verse, Don Everly sings, “There goes my baby / With someone new / She sure looks happy / I sure am blue / She was my baby until he stepped in / Goodbye to romance that might have been.” On paper, it looks like a mournful piece. Perhaps that’s why Boudleaux Bryant’s thirty previous clients rejected it. It seems like just another lachrymose ballad. The Everly Brothers transplant the guitar arrangement from one of their own songs and add a rock beat inspired by 1950s rocker Bo Diddley. The Everly Brothers attack ‘Bye Bye Love’ with great verve, singing strongly and offering a showy extra acoustic strum after singing the words of the title. The lead guitar punctuates the song with a kind of jaunty irreverence. In the hands of the Everlys, yes, it is sad to lose this girl, but there seems no doubt that the narrator will carry on and remains capable of rebounding from misfortune. It is that attitude and treatment that makes ‘Bye Bye Love’ work. The B side of the single is the Don Everly composition ‘I Wonder If I Care As Much’. This song shows a stronger country music influence and features bowing strings and rattling percussion. The single is produced by Archie Bleyer and is recorded at RCA Studios, Nashville, Tennessee.
On ‘Bye Bye Love’ – and most of their classic songs – The Everly Brothers are backed by a crew of experienced session musicians. The usual contributors to their recordings are: Chet Atkins (guitar), Hank Garland (guitar), Ray Edenton (guitar), Floyd Cramer (piano), Floyd ‘Lightnin’’ Chance (bass) and Buddy Harman (drums). The musicians are all well-rehearsed and capable of playing cleanly and simply. The recordings are comparatively spartan, without any echo, effects or orchestras. Perhaps most importantly, there is a sense of orderly restraint.
‘It’s difficult to ascertain who was responsible for The Everly Brothers’ sound.’ It appears to arise from the combination of the talents of a number of individuals. Those nominated as influential to the process are: Don and Phil Everly (of course), Archie Bleyer (producer), Wesley Rose (publisher and –sort of – manager), Boudleaux Bryant (songwriter) and Chet Atkins (guitarist) and the other session musicians.
After recording ‘Bye Bye Love’ – but before it becomes a hit – The Everly Brothers go on tour with Bill Monroe. He is a famed exponent of bluegrass music (a sort of hillbilly version of country). Elvis Presley recorded a cover version of Monroe’s ‘Blue Moon Of Kentucky’. The tour by Monroe with The Everly Brothers is played in tent-shows across Mississippi and Louisiana. Don Everly drinks his first beer on this tour. “We got ninety dollars a week apiece and we were in hog heaven,” recalls Don. Then, ‘Bye Bye Love’ takes off and becomes the ‘first million seller’ for The Everly Brothers.
The first thing Don and Phil Everly do with their new-found financial power is buy a car. The duo drives to Chicago where their father, Ike Everly, has been working. The boys tell him to pack in his job and return to Nashville with them. Their new status means they can help support their parents.
The Everly Brothers cut their second single for Cadence Records in August 1957. ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ (US no. 1, UK no. 2, AUS no. 3) is released on 2 September 1957. Like its predecessor ‘Bye Bye Love’, this song is also written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. In this fable, a boy takes Susie to a movie and because “It didn’t have much of a plot / We fell asleep / Our goose is cooked / Our reputations shot” since it looks like they have spent the night together. Or, as the song puts it, “What are we gonna tell your Ma? / What are we going to tell your Pa? / What are we gonna tell our friends / When they say, ‘Ooh la la’?” Lest it should be thought this is an overreaction, the mores of 1957 have to be kept in mind. The song is even banned in Boston for its suggestive lyrics and in some Catholic countries ‘for its suggestion of pre-marital hanky-panky.’ Musically, ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ doesn’t stray far from the template forged by ‘Bye Bye Love’. If there is a distinction to be drawn, ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ more readily invites a sing-along with its chorus. ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ is the first of three U.S. no. 1 singles for The Everly Brothers; it tops the chart for one week on 5 October 1957.
Phil Everly, the younger of the two brothers, has been attending Peabody Demonstration School. With the hits coming, Phil had to drop out of school and finish his education via correspondence. He graduates in 1957 and both brothers can now focus on their recording career.
On 6 September 1957 The Everly Brothers join in a rock ‘n’ roll package tour with other artists. The eleven-week itinerary takes in sixty-seven cities across the U.S.A. Other artists involved are Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, The Crickets and Eddie Cochran. The whole collective is unceremoniously packed into buses and sets out on the highway.
The Everly Brothers seems to form a particular bond with Buddy Holly, the leader of The Crickets. (Holly will record as both a solo act and as part of The Crickets though, for practical purposes, the recordings are virtually interchangeable.) “We were all from the South (Holly hails from Lubbock, Texas), we’d started in country music,” says Don Everly. The Everlys introduce Holly and company to their tailors since they had recently upgraded their own stage image. Don Everly claims Buddy Holly wrote ‘Wishing’ for The Everly Brothers. This seems unlikely since Holly was performing the song with its co-author, Bob Montgomery, as Buddy & Bob in the pre-Crickets days (1953-1955). He may have suggested it as a song for The Everly Brothers to perform though. (‘Holly In The Hills’ (1965), a Buddy Holly compilation album, will be the first time ‘Wishing’ is released as a recording.) The Everly Brothers give Felice and Boudleaux Bryant’s ‘Raining In My Heart’ to Holly who releases that as the B side of his 1959 single ‘It Doesn’t Matter Anymore’ (US no. 13, UK no. 1). The Everly Brothers tour with Buddy Holly again in 1958.
The Everly Brothers release one more single in 1957, ‘This Little Girl Of Mine’ (US no. 26). This is a cover version of a song recorded by rhythm and blues singer Ray Charles in 1955. It is actually based on an earlier gospel song, ‘This Little Light Of Mine’. The Everly Brothers’ take on ‘This Little Girl Of Mine’ is an upbeat performance with a more fulsome sound – electric guitar, piano – than their previous, primarily acoustic, recordings.
The debut album, ‘The Everly Brothers’ (1958) (US no. 16), is produced by Archie Bleyer. It is released on the Cadence label. The disc is sometimes referred to as ‘They’re Off And Rolling’ after the first words of the written introduction on the front cover of the album. The Everly Brothers’ first three singles for Cadence – ‘Bye Bye Love’, ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ and ‘This Little Girl Of Mine’ – are all included here. On ‘The Everly Brothers’, Don and Phil Everly also record cover versions of songs first recorded by some of their peers in the early days of rock such as: ‘Be Bop A Lula’ (Gene Vincent, 1956), ‘Rip It Up’ (Little Richard, 1956) and ‘Keep A’Knockin’’ (also Little Richard, 1957). There is room for some original compositions too. On this disc can be found two Don Everly compositions, ‘I Wonder If I Care As Much’ (the B side of ‘Bye Bye Love’) and ‘Maybe Tomorrow’, as well as ‘Should We Tell Him’ which is co-written by Don and Phil. The Everly Brothers are really geared towards singles rather than albums (as was the whole early rock industry), but this is as good a candidate as any for their best album. The mix of rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly and country music here sounds fresh and innovative.
The Everly Brothers release a new single, ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ (US no. 1, UK no. 1, AUS no. 3) b/w ‘Claudette’ (US no. 30, UK no. 1), on 6 March 1958. ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ is written by Boudleaux Bryant. It is creamy smooth in its execution, the vocals parting curtains of guitars: “When I want you / In my arms / When I want you / And all your charms / Whenever I want you / All I have to do is dream.” The girl the singer admires may be unattainable but all that really matters is the capacity to imagine her, this idealised woman. ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ is recorded in only two takes and features Chet Atkins on guitar. The flipside, ‘Claudette’, is an early composition by fellow rock star Roy Orbison. This neat little rocker is named after Orbison’s wife. ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ is The Everly Brothers’ second U.S. no. 1 single. It tops the U.S. singles chart for four weeks from 10 May 1958 to 31 May 1958. ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ is the first of four U.K. no. 1 singles by The Everly Brothers. It spends six weeks atop the U.K. singles chart from 12 July 1958 to 16 August 1958.
Around the same time as ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ is released, The Everly Brothers visit the United Kingdom for the first time.
Beginning on 5 April 1958 The Everly Brothers are part of promoter Irvin Feld’s Greatest Show of Stars. This tour runs for eighty days, taking in shows in both the U.S.A. and Canada. Also on the bill is rhythm and blues, pop and gospel singer Sam Cooke.
The Everly Brothers’ single ‘Bird Dog’ (US no. 2, UK no. 2, AUS no. 1) b/w ‘Devoted To You’ (US no. 10, AUS no. 25) is released on 28 July 1958. ‘Bird Dog’ is written by Boudleaux Bryant. This is one of The Everly Brothers’ more aggressive performances as they sound almost (justifiably) angry with this ‘Bird Dog’, another boy who is stealing everyone else’s ‘chicks’: “Johnny kissed the teacher (He’s a bird) / He tip-toed up to reach her (He’s a bird) / Well, he’s the teacher’s pet now (He’s a dog) / What he wants he can get now (What a dog) / He even made the teacher let him sit next to my baby (He’s a bird dog).” ‘Bird Dog’ contrasts strongly with its flipside, ‘Devoted To You’. From an aggressive rocker, the brothers switch gears to a love ballad. ‘Devoted To You’ is also written by Boudleaux Bryant. It is unyieldingly romantic. There are wedding vows less moving than these lyrics: “Darling, you can count on me / ‘Till the sun dries up the sea / Until then I’ll always be / Devoted to you.” The singer goes on to promise, “I’ll never hurt you / I’ll never lie / I’ll never be untrue / I’ll never give you reason to cry / I’d be unhappy if you were blue.” It closes with a profound vision of the future: “Through the years / Our love will grow / Like a river it will flow / It can’t die because I’m so / Devoted to you.” ‘Devoted To You’ is the finest Everly Brothers song. In a catalogue littered with gems of yearning love songs, this remains an outstanding peak for its ability to melt the heart. ‘Bird Dog’ is The Everly Brothers’ only Australian no. 1 song.
The Everly Brothers issue one more single in 1958, ‘Problems’ (US no. 2, UK no. 6, AUS no. 16). This song is co-written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. ‘Problems’ is a catalogue of teenage hassles as “Worries, worries pile up on my head.” Unsure of love, the narrator is beset by both his ‘baby’ and his teacher. “Can’t get the car / My marks ain’t been so good,” he mourns, “They’re all on account of my lovin’ you like I do.” Musically, this is a fairly standard country rock hybrid notable for its gently patted drums.
‘Songs Our Daddy Taught Us’ (1958), the second album by The Everly Brothers, is released in December. This album is produced by Archie Bleyer and released on the Cadence label. The songs on this disc are all cover versions of country and folk music songs. As the title says, they are songs Ike Everly introduced to his boys. It’s a brave album that forsakes The Everly Brothers rock ‘n’ roll sound for a more homespun ‘rootsy’ flavour. However, without any of the duo’s pop hits being present, ‘Songs Our Daddy Taught Us’ doesn’t make any commercial impact. One song from this set, a cover of Davis & Taylor’s 1934 song ‘I’m Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail’, will later be a minor hit for The Everly Brothers in 1962.
For ten days from 25 December 1958, Alan Freed’s Christmas Rock & Roll Spectacular is held at Loew’s State Theater in Manhattan, New York. Freed is the disc jockey that is generally credited with coining the term ‘rock ‘n’ roll.’ Acts performing at these shows include Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Eddie Cochran. The Everly Brothers headline the last five nights of these shows.
The compilation ‘The Best Of The Everly Brothers’ (1959) is the only Everly Brothers album released in 1959. This disc contains both sides of each of The Everly Brothers’ first six singles for Cadence Records. This means it is the first album on which appears such songs as ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’, ‘Claudette’, ‘Bird Dog’, ‘Devoted To You’ and ‘Problems’. Also present are other hits like ‘Bye Bye Love’, ‘I Wonder If I Care As Much’, ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ and ‘This Little Girl Of Mine’ – but they all appeared on ‘The Everly Brothers’ (1958) first.
On 3 February 1959 The Everly Brothers friend Buddy Holly dies in a plane crash. The rock music community mourns this tragedy. Phil Everly attends Holly’s funeral but, contrary to a persistent legend, is not one of the pallbearers. “I couldn’t go to the funeral,” says Don Everly. Overwhelmed by grief, “I couldn’t go anywhere. I just took to my bed.”
In May-June 1959 The Everly Brothers go on a concert tour of Australia. Also on the bill are Sal Mineo and Tab Hunter, two handsome young U.S. men who are perhaps better known as actors than singers. Actually, this ‘tour’ consists of only four shows: 28 May 1959 and 29 May 1959 in Sydney and 1 June 1959 and 2 June 1959 in Brisbane. Phil Everly recalls that, “The first time we flew to Australia was by prop (i.e. a propeller-driven airplane), and it took thirty-two hours. You shaved twice; it was ridiculous.”
The Everly Brothers release three singles in 1959 and they are detailed below:
‘Rip It Up’ (AUS no. 57) is a cover version of the raucous 1956 rocker first recorded by Little Richard. This is lifted from the debut album ‘The Everly Brothers’ (1958) and is a (minor) hit for The Everly Brothers only in Australia.
‘Take A Message To Mary’ (US no. 16, UK no. 20, AUS no. 2) b/w ‘Poor Jenny’ is the second Everly Brothers single for 1959. Both sides of this single are written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. ‘Take A Message To Mary’ is a frontier love song. A cowboy has gone bad and wound up in jail so he sends a message to his love to cancel their wedding day. It’s like a Wild West legend in song form. The percussion that sounds like jingling spurs is actually the sound of a screwdriver tapping on a Coca-Cola bottle. ‘Poor Jenny’ is a different kind of song. It is more rock ‘n’ roll and takes a humorous slant. At her first party, ‘Poor Jenny’ is mistaken for the leader of a teenage gang. Hastily strummed guitars press home the message of the song.
The best Everly Brothers single for 1959 is ‘(Til) I Kissed You’ (US no. 4, UK no. 2, AUS no. 2). This song is written by Don Everly. “Never felt like this until I kissed ya,” he sings. “How did I exist until I kissed ya / Never had you on my mind / Now you’re there all the time.” Listening to the song and its jaunty piano, it is easy to picture a dance hall full of youngsters, the girls being twirled by their partners, full skirts and starchy petticoats blossoming like mushrooms. Chet Atkins plays guitar on ‘(Til) I Kissed You’ while the drums are played by Jerry Allison from the late Buddy Holly’s band, The Crickets. Don Everly provides this explanation to a journalist years later about the origins of the song: “I wrote ‘(Til) I Kissed You’ about a girl I met in Australia. Her name was Lillian, and she was very, very inspirational. I was married, but…I wrote the song about her on the way back home.”
On 26 October 1959, The Everly Brothers announce they are thinking of leaving Cadence Records. They are ‘feeling artistically stifled’ there. Don and Phil are in talks with both RCA and Warner Brothers Records. Ultimately, The Everly Brothers move to Warner Brothers in 1960. At this time, Warner Brothers is still a young label. It is an offshoot from the Warner Brothers movie studio, one of the major players in the motion picture industry. To secure The Everly Brothers, Warners offers a contract that, ‘at the time [is] the fattest ever offered a rock act: one million dollars, to be paid out over ten years (1960-1969).’ Although it is not often acknowledged, adding The Everly Brothers to their roster does ‘a lot to establish Warners as a major force’ in the record industry. From 1960 to 1962, The Everly Brothers’ former label, Cadence, continues to release Everly Brothers recordings from their vaults in competition to Warners’ products from the same act. Their new record deal removes The Everly Brothers not only from Cadence, but also producer Archie Bleyer who remains President of Cadence. For now, The Everly Brothers remain associated with manager/publisher Wesley Rose and mainly continue to record in Nashville – though both of those things will change before much longer.
The Everly Brothers first single for 1960 is ‘Let It Be Me’ (US no. 7, UK no. 13, AUS no. 24). This is an English language cover version of a 1955 French pop song by Gilbert Becaud. ‘Let It Be Me’ is a romantic ballad that leans heavily on the musical support of a string section. The Everly Brothers recorded ‘Let It Be Me’ on 15 December 1959 in New York City. It is their first recording made outside of Nashville and also the first to feature strings so prominently. ‘Let It Be Me’ is still issued on the Cadence label.
In 1960 both Don and Phil Everly move from Nashville to Hollywood. They study acting for six months and hope to start a movie career. This move is perhaps prompted by their new record label Warner Brothers having such strong ties to the film industry. However, Don and Phil ‘turn down, in disgust, the rock-exploitation films they are offered.’ The Everly Brothers never make a motion picture.
A consequence of The Everly Brothers’ relocation to Hollywood is the end of Don Everly’s marriage to Mary Sue Ingraham. Don leaves Mary Sue and their daughter behind. He is rumoured to have said, “You’re just not Hollywood, babe” before leaving Mary Sue in Nashville. Don and Mary Sue legally separate in 1960. Don starts dating Venetia Stevenson, the same starlet after whom his daughter by Mary Sue was named. Mary Sue files for divorce. In the subsequent legal proceedings, Don Everly is accused of domestic violence having allegedly choked his estranged spouse and kicked her in the stomach. The divorce is granted on 22 May 1961. In 1962 Mary Sue Ingraham marries her second husband, Donald Glenn Tubb – the nephew of hillbilly honky tonk man Ernest Tubb.
The Everly Brothers kick off their first full-blown concert tour of the United Kingdom with a show in London on 3 April 1960.
‘Cathy’s Clown’ (US no. 1, UK no. 1, AUS no. 3), The Everly Brothers’ first single for Warner Brothers, is released in April 1960. ‘Cathy’s Clown’ is co-written by Don and Phil Everly and is produced by Wesley Rose. The bulk of the song features an odd, skipping drumbeat played by Buddy Harman. The drum sound was recorded with a tape loop so it sounds like two drummers. The alternating passages spotlight a pretty piano melody played by Floyd Cramer. In rich harmonies, The Everly Brothers sing, “Don’t want your love anymore / Don’t want your kisses, that’s for sure / I die each time I hear this sound / ‘Here he comes, that’s Cathy’s clown.’” Don Everly admits, “I had this girlfriend named Catherine,” and she serves as the lyrical inspiration for ‘Cathy’s Clown’. Musically, the song’s (perhaps unlikely) inspiration is ‘The Grand Canyon Suite’, a 1931 composition by Ferde Grofe (pronounced Ferdy Growfay, born Ferdinand Rudolph von Grofe). A U.S. classical musician and arranger, Ferde Grofe also writes music for films and television. ‘Cathy’s Clown’ is The Everly Brothers’ most commercially successful single and is described as ‘one of their greatest songs.’ It is the duo’s third and final U.S. no. 1 single. It tops the U.S. singles chart for five weeks (24 May 1960 to 28 June 1960). ‘Cathy’s Clown’ is the first single released by Warner Brothers in the U.K. It is the second of four U.K. no. 1 singles by The Everly Brothers. It tops the U.K. singles chart for seven weeks (1 May 1960 to 14 June 1960). In both the U.S. and the U.K., ‘Cathy’s Clown’ spends longer at the top of the chart than any rival no. 1 by The Everly Brothers. If there are any doubts about the wisdom of The Everly Brothers’ move to Warner Brothers Records, they seem to be allayed by the success of ‘Cathy’s Clown’.
Cadence Records, The Everly Brothers’ former label, is quick to capitalise on the success of ‘Cathy’s Clown’ by releasing ‘When Will I Be Loved’ (US no. 8, UK no. 4, AUS no. 3) as a single by The Everly Brothers in May 1960. This song is written by Phil Everly, the younger of the two siblings. ‘When Will I Be Loved’ is a stirring call-to-arms, an upbeat plea for true love. It was recorded in 1960 at Cadence prior to The Everly Brothers’ departure to Warner Brothers. ‘When Will I Be Loved’ is produced by Wesley Rose. The musicians on this song are Chet Atkins and the usual Nashville crew with the addition of Luther Brandon on guitar. A notable cover version of ‘When Will I Be Loved’ is recorded by Linda Ronstadt in 1975.
Warner Brothers strike back with the 1960 Everly Brothers single ‘So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)’ (US no. 7, UK no. 4, AUS no. 19) b/w ‘Lucille’ (US no. 21, UK no. 4, AUS no. 19). ‘So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)’ is written by Don Everly. Over a heartbeat drum, a guitar stings like the tears in Don’s eyes as he sings, “We used to have good times together / But now I feel them slip away / It makes me cry / To see love die / So sad to watch good love go bad.” The flipside of this single is a cover version of the 1957 Little Richard song ‘Lucille’. Although inevitably The Everly Brothers rendition is more mannered than the wild original, it still shows them in a more forceful mode than usual.
‘It’s Everly Time’ (1960) (US no. 9, UK no. 2), released in May, is The Everly Brothers’ first album for Warner Brothers. It includes ‘So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)’ but, curiously, does not include either ‘Cathy’s Clown’ or ‘Lucille’. This album is still recorded in The Everly Brothers’ familiar environment of Nashville in five sessions during 1960. Most of the songs on this set are written by the team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.
Cadence Records issues another song by The Everly Brothers. The single concerned is 1960’s ‘Like Strangers’ (US no. 22, UK no. 11, AUS no. 39). This song is written by Boudleaux Bryant. ‘Like Strangers’ is softly romantic, an ode to lovers who “pull apart so far.”
Cadence’s album ‘The Fabulous Style Of The Everly Brothers’ (1960) (US no. 23) is a compilation that includes the most recent Everly Brothers singles issued by that label: ‘Take A Message To Mary’, ‘(Til) I Kissed You’, ‘Let It Be Me’, ‘When Will I Be Loved’ and ‘Like Strangers’. None of these songs has previously appeared on a full-length album.
The Everly Brothers’ last single for the year is ‘Walk Right Back’ (US no. 7, UK no. 1, AUS no. 8) b/w ‘Ebony Eyes’ (US no. 8, UK no. 1, AUS no. 8). The single is released by Warner Brothers on 17 September 1960. ‘Walk Right Back’ is written by Sonny Curtis, a guitarist often affiliated with the late Buddy Holly’s band, The Crickets. ‘Walk Right Back’ strides forth with gentle self-assurance, requesting, “I want you to tell me why you walked out on me” and working up to assert, “Walk right back to me this minute / Bring your love to me, don’t send it.” ‘Walk Right Back’ is the third of The Everly Brothers’ four U.K. no. 1 singles. It spends three weeks – 5 March 1961 to 19 March 1961 – atop the U.K. singles chart. The flipside of ‘Walk Right Back’ is ‘Ebony Eyes’. This song is written by John D. Loudermilk and first recorded by The Everly Brothers. A tale of a lover lost in a plane crash, ‘Ebony Eyes’ is correctly characterised as a ‘tearjerker.’
‘A Date With The Everly Brothers’ (1960) (US no. 9, UK no. 3) is released by Warner Brothers in October. This disc incorporates ‘Cathy’s Clown’ and ‘Lucille’, two hits for the duo that were mysteriously omitted from their previous Warners album, ‘It’s Everly Time’. Aside from that, this album is most notable for having the first recorded version of Boudleaux Bryant’s song ‘Love Hurts’. Although it is not released as a single by The Everly Brothers, cover versions of ‘Love Hurts’ are subsequently recorded by Roy Orbison (1961), Nazareth (1974) and Jim Capaldi (1975). ‘Love Hurts’ is a poetic examination of the pain involved in falling for another person.
In May 1961 The Everly Brothers issue a single titled ‘Temptation’ (US no. 27, UK no. 1, AUS no. 4). This is a cover version of a song first recorded by pop crooner Bing Crosby in 1933. “You are temptation,” Don and Phil declare in their dramatic take on this song. It’s a big arrangement with lots of instruments and added female backing vocals. ‘Temptation’ is The Everly Brothers’ fourth and final U.K. no. 1 single. It tops the U.K. singles chart for two weeks, 23 July 1961 to 30 July 1961.
The recording of ‘Temptation’ leads to a split between The Everly Brothers and their manager/record producer Wesley Rose. Don and Phil fire Rose ‘in a dispute over the arrangement of “Temptation”.’ He was also reportedly upset that the brothers were using a song not published by Acuff-Rose. It turned out that, in his contract, Rose had the power to veto what songs The Everly Brothers could release. The schism between The Everly Brothers and Wesley Rose results in Rose cutting them off from songwriters like Felice and Boudleaux Bryant who are contracted to Acuff-Rose. From 1961 to 1964 The Everly Brothers record songs from others to avoid paying royalties to Rose. An added complication is that The Everly Brothers are also contracted as songwriters to Acuff-Rose so, if they record their own songs, Rose gets royalties then too. In an effort to avoid this, The Everly Brothers record a couple of songs attributed to Jimmy Howard – until Wesley Rose discovers that ‘Jimmy Howard’ is only a pseudonym for The Everly Brothers and shuts that down.
The Everly Brothers are showbiz troupers who maintain a punishing touring schedule. Around 1961, they begin taking ‘vitamin’ treatments to help them cope with these demands. Archie Bleyer, The Everly Brothers’ first record producer at Cadence, puts the duo in touch with Dr Max Jacobsen who provides these injections. Even the U.S. President of the time, John F. Kennedy, was having these ‘vitamin’ shots. The problem is that these ‘vitamins’ given to The Everly Brothers are actually amphetamines a.k.a. ‘speed.’ “People didn’t understand drugs that well then. They didn’t know what they were messing with,” explains Don Everly. Phil, Don’s younger brother, is relatively ‘unaffected’ but, perhaps because he also undergoes Ritalin therapy, Don gets into deeper trouble. He ‘reacts poorly’ and suffers hallucinations, weight loss and insomnia. For around the next few years, Don Everly struggles with addiction to these drugs.
On 19 May 1961, The Everly Brothers announce they are launching their own record label, Calliope, which intends ‘to discover and develop new talent.’ The Everly Brothers’ own recordings will continue to be issued by Warner Brothers. If Calliope does launch any new talent, those acts are unremembered. What the label is best known for are recordings by Don Everly and Phil Everly under other names. Adopting the pseudonym Adrian Kimberly, Don Everly records an instrumental version of Edward Elgar’s ‘Pomp And Circumstance’ march. Elgar composed the original in the early 1900s. Adrian Kimberly’s take on ‘Pomp And Circumstance’ is a U.S. top forty hit in mid-1961. Adrian Kimberly records further instrumentals, but none of them reach the charts. Phil Everly forms The Keestone Family Singers with Glen Campbell and Carole King, two singers and songwriters who will become well known as recording artists in the near future. Carole King has already had considerable success as a songwriter, but has yet to find major fame as a performer in her own right. The Keestone Family Singers record only one single, ‘Melodrama’, and it fails to chart. By the end of 1962 the Calliope label will go out of business.
The Everly Brothers’ next single for 1961 is ‘Don’t Blame Me’ (US no. 20, UK no. 20, AUS no. 26). This is a cover version of a song first recorded by Rudy Valee in 1933. ‘Don’t Blame Me’ is adult pop with slightly jazzy overtones laid atop the regular Everly Brothers sound. The B side of this single is ‘Muskrat’. This is a traditional tune that was popularised by Merle Travis in 1957 on his ‘Back Home’ album. In this rattle-trap country number, the lyrics compare the singer to various critters: muskrat, groundhog, rooster and tomcat. The Everly Brothers’ version closes with a slightly incongruous flute solo.
The Everly Brothers’ album ‘Both Sides Of An Evening’ (1961) is released by Warner Brothers. This disc is produced by Andrew Sandoval. The rather clever approach to ‘Both Sides Of An Evening’ divides the album into an uptempo side ‘for dancing’ (side one) and a slower-paced side ‘for dreaming’ (side two). ‘Muskrat’ is on the ‘for dancing’ side; ‘Don’t Blame Me’ is included on the ‘for dreaming’ side. ‘Both Sides Of An Evening’ fails to sell in sufficient quantities to register on the album charts.
Warner Brothers issues the (non-charting) Everly Brothers compilation album ‘Souvenir Sampler’ (1961).
Don Everly and Phil Everly both enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve on 25 November 1961. The boys make the decision to do this voluntarily rather than risk being caught up in compulsory service in the U.S. armed forces ‘draft.’ The Everly Brothers are stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton on the Southern California coast in San Diego County. They train with a Howitzer unit. (A Howitzer is an artillery piece that resembles a mobile cannon.) Generally, the stint in the Marine Corps Reserve has the inevitable effect of ‘taking The Everly Brothers out of the spotlight’ for a time. The brothers are discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve on 13 February 1962.
While The Everly Brothers are serving in the Marine Corps Reserve, Warner Brothers issues the album ‘Instant Party’ (1962) (UK no. 20) in January. This disc consists mainly of The Everly Brothers’ versions of pre-rock, older pop tunes.
On 13 February 1962, Don Everly marries his second wife, Venetia Stevenson (born Joanna Venetia Invicta Stevenson on 10 March 1938 in London, England). Don wears his Marine uniform for the ceremony. When Venetia Stevenson comes to Hollywood from her native England, her U.S. management team set her up on dates that are perhaps more about seeking publicity for both Venetia and her companions than any serious romantic interest. Venetia Stevenson dates teen idol Tab Hunter (who goes on an Australian tour with The Everly Brothers in 1959), young actor Anthony Perkins and rock ‘n’ roll star Elvis Presley. One of these dates, with U.S. actor Russ Tamblyn, leads to marriage in 1956. They divorce one year later. When Venetia Stevenson is a guest on television variety program ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1957, she is reportedly dating Elvis Presley. The Everly Brothers appear on the same episode of ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ and this is where Don and Venetia first meet. Don is married to Mary Sue Ingraham at the time. Venetia Stevenson appears to have made an impression on him though, because Don’s daughter by Mary Sue is named Venetia (born on 16 April 1959). Don and Mary Sue separate when The Everly Brothers relocate from Nashville to Hollywood in 1960 with a divorce following on 22 May 1961. Don and Venetia meet again at a party thrown by Tab Hunter in 1960. Don is separated and Venetia is divorced so the pair starts dating in 1961. Prior to marrying Don Everly, Venetia Stevenson is best known for mainly one episode guest-shots on television westerns. Her credits include: ‘Cheyenne’ (1957), ‘Sugarfoot’ (three episodes in 1957-1958), ‘Lawman’ (1958), ‘Colt .45’ (1958) and the private eye show ’77 Sunset Strip’ (1958). Don Everly and Venetia Stevenson go on to have three children together: a daughter, Stacy Dawn (born in 1963); a second daughter, Erin Invicta (born on 8 November 1965); and a son named Edan Donald (born on 25 August 1968).
Five days after Don Everly’s wedding, The Everly Brothers appear on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ on 18 February 1962. Sullivan comments on Don Everly having gained weight. Don had lost weight due to his amphetamine habit, but he gained twenty pounds during his time at the Marines boot camp. The Everly Brothers perform on this occasion still attired in their Marine uniforms. Now that they are discharged from the Marines, Don goes back to Dr Jacobsen for more ‘vitamin’ injections. The two songs The Everly Brothers perform on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ on 18 February 1962 are ‘Jezebel’ and the song that will be their next single, ‘Crying In The Rain’.
The Everly Brothers’ 1962 single ‘Crying In The Rain’ (US no. 6, UK no. 6, AUS no. 7) is co-written by Howard Greenfield and Carole King. Greenfield and King are both part of the stable of songwriters working in the Brill Building in New York. However ‘Crying In The Rain’ is the only song they write together. Howard Greenfield normally writes the words for Neil Sedaka while Carole King’s husband, Gerry Goffin, is her usual lyricist. Greenfield and King come up with a piece that is well-suited to The Everly Brothers, a song that they imbue with a sad nobility: “I’ll never let you see / The way my broken heart is hurting me / I’ve got my pride and I know how to hide / All my sorrow and pain / I’ll do my crying in the rain.” Musically, this is a polished and sleek sad pop song.
‘That’s Old Fashioned (That’s How Love Should Be)’ (US no. 9, AUS no. 8) is the next single by The Everly Brothers in 1962. This song is co-written by the trio of Bill Giant, Bernie Baum and Florence Kaye. It was originally recorded by The Chordettes but went unreleased. The song is given to The Everly Brothers by their former mentor, Archie Bleyer. The lyrics evoke nostalgic images of an ice cream parlour and a nickelodeon. A brass section is added to the musical side of the equation. ‘That’s Old Fashioned’ can be seen as a defence of the kind of romanticism that has been The Everly Brothers’ forte. It is also their last U.S. top ten hit. The flipside is ‘How Can I Meet Her?’ (US no. 75, UK no. 12, AUS no. 8). This is co-written by Gerry Goffin (the husband of fellow songwriter Carole King) and Jack Keller. The narrator in this song is desperate to meet a particular girl, but the object of his ardour puts on airs and appears to be self-absorbed. A rootsy harmonica adds some welcome grit to this song whose melody would, otherwise, appear to be in the mode of a Hollywood musical.
Warner Brothers issues the compilation album ‘The Golden Hits Of The Everly Brothers’ (1962) (US no. 35). This set features the duo’s biggest hits at Warner Brothers starting from ‘Cathy’s Clown’. It marks the first appearance on a full-length album of such tracks as ‘Walk Right Back’, ‘Temptation’, ‘Crying In The Rain’ and ‘That’s Old Fashioned (That’s How Love Should Be)’. None of The Everly Brothers’ recordings from their days at Cadence (e.g. ‘Bye Bye Love’, ‘Wake Up Little Susie’) are present since Warner Brothers doesn’t have the rights to them.
Speaking of Cadence Records, The Everly Brothers’ erstwhile label issues ‘I’m Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail’ (US no. 76, AUS no. 59) as a single in 1962. This cover version of a song from 1934 by (Karl) Davis & (Harty) Taylor first appeared on The Everly Brothers’ album ‘Songs Our Daddy Taught Us’ (1958). ‘I’m Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail’ is the sad plea of a mother to the warden of the jail where her son is imprisoned after following his father’s bad example. The old woman offers to pawn her jewellery, wash and scrub to secure her son’s release. The twist is that after the warden relents and frees the kid, the old woman dies. The Everly Brothers’ rendition is musically spare, just voices and acoustic guitars. This spartan treatment prevents proceedings from becoming overly maudlin. It is a reminder though of how much more complex the duo’s recordings have become since they moved to Warner Brothers.
Both sides of The Everly Brothers’ final single for 1962 – ‘Don’t Ask Me To Be Friends’ (US no. 48, AUS no. 59) b/w ‘No One Can Make My Sunshine Smile’ (UK no. 11) – are co-written by Gerry Goffin and Jack Keller. The same duo co-wrote The Everly Brothers’ ‘How Can I Meet Her?’ ‘Don’t Ask Me To Be Friends’ is a post break-up song. The singer directs, “Ask me to forget you / But don’t ask me to be friends.” The addition of a string section makes it all rather more emotional. ‘No One Can Make My Sunshine Smile’ has strummed guitars over a sparkling piano line. The singer’s ex-girlfriend is unhappy – but he sees this as largely her own fault for desiring style and other guys instead of him.
The fortunes of The Everly Brothers are changing. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus about when this trend begins. Arguably, the switch from Cadence Records to Warner Brothers ‘put them [i.e. The Everly Brothers] at a disadvantage.’ Possibly, it was their stint in the Marine Corps Reserve that made ‘their careers begin to lose momentum.’ Mabye ‘That’s Old Fashioned’ ‘signalled the end. Its very title implied that The Everly Brothers had become an anachronism.’ The music of The Everly Brothers ‘displays a distressing, increasing tendency toward soft pop and maudlin sentiments.’ More positively, their recent works are proof of ‘expanding musical horizons.’ Even if their appeal in the U.S. has waned, The Everly Brothers are ‘still popular in the U.K. and Canada for most of the 1960s.’
A U.K. tour by The Everly Brothers in October 1962 proves to be eventful. According to Joey Page, who plays bass in The Everly Brothers backing group on the tour, things get off to a bad start. During rehearsals in Los Angeles, Don Everly breaks down. Phil Everly arrives in the U.K. on 9 October 1962 but Don fails to catch the flight. Don’s wife, Venetia, is pregnant with their first child; Don is battling an addiction to amphetamines; and the breakdown at rehearsals is symptomatic of the stress he is feeling. Don and Venetia arrive in the U.K. the following day, 10 October 1962. In England, Don Everly passes out during rehearsals and is taken to hospital. Don discharges himself six hours later and goes back to the hotel with his wife. However, Don slips into unconsciousness and is taken back to hospital. By this time, the media is on the trail of the story. It is suggested that Don Everly has taken an overdose. Venetia Stevenson tells the press that her husband is suffering from food poisoning. A spokesman for The Everly Brothers says that Don is suffering severe physical and nervous exhaustion. Don Everly says, “I can’t say [what is wrong] – I don’t know.” The full story doesn’t come out until later. Supposedly, Don Everly ‘almost died of an overdose in late 1962.’ He attempted to kill himself in England with an overdose of barbiturates. At the hospital, Don had his stomach pumped. When released from hospital, he returned to his hotel and gulped down more pills. Don Everly is sent back to the U.S.A. Phil Everly completes their British commitments with bassist Joey Page filling in for Don.
Don Everly is flown back to New York and is admitted to a mental hospital. Electro shock therapy is administered. “Shock therapy…didn’t do me any good,” Don says later. “[It] was a pretty primitive treatment at the time…It knocked me back for a long time. I thought I’d never write [songs] again.” Don Everly receives help from a psychiatrist over the next two to three years in various hospitals. He eventually weans himself off prescription drugs around 1966.
Cadence Records issues the compilation ‘Folk Songs Of The Everly Brothers’ (1962). Warner Brothers issues the new album ‘Christmas With The Everly Brothers’ (1962) which features Don and Phil performing traditional seasonal fare. Neither of these albums makes an impact on the charts. For the rest of the 1960s, only one Everly Brothers album will register on the charts (‘Beat & Soul’ (1965)) – and that will be only a very modest chart placement.
Phil Everly marries Jacqueline (‘Jackie’) Alice Ertel on 12 January 1963. She is sometimes referred to as Jacqueline Ertel-Bleyer because she is the step-daughter of Archie Bleyer. It may be recalled that Archie Bleyer is the President of Cadence Records and the man who produced such Everly Brothers hits as ‘Bye Bye Love’, ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ and ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’. Jackie’s mother, Janet Ertel, was a member of The Chordettes, a group that was also signed to Cadence. The Chordettes’ unreleased ‘That’s Old Fashioned (That’s The Way Love Should Be)’ was given to The Everly Brothers to record in 1962. Phil and Jackie date on-and-off for five years from 1957 to 1962. Phil writes The Everly Brothers’ 1960 hit ‘When Will I Be Loved’ about Jackie. During one of the ‘off’ periods in his relationship with Jackie, Phil dates Ann Marshall (born in 1942), but drops her on her twentieth birthday. Phil Everly marries Jacqueline Ertel in New York City. Jackie’s mother and step-father have an apartment in New York and Jackie is going to college in New York. Phil and Jackie go on to have one child, Phillip Jason (‘Jason’) (born on 9 September 1966). Their son is born while Phil Everly is away completing his yearly Marine Corps Reserve obligations.
Don Everly and Venetia Stevenson’s daughter Stacy is born in 1963. Three months after the birth, Venetia Stevenson files for divorce. In an echo of Don’s first wife, Mary Sue Ingraham, Venetia claims that Don has hit and kicked her several times. Don and Venetia reconcile a month later and go on to have another daughter, Erin (born on 8 November 1965) and a son, Edan (born on 25 August 1968).
The Everly Brothers release three singles in 1963. Each of them stands alone and is not included on an album.
The first of The Everly Brothers’ 1963 singles is ‘Nancy’s Minuet’ (US no. 107). This is written by Don Everly. Since Nancy turns her man into a puppet, a clown, it’s hard not to see this as recalling ‘Cathy’s Clown’. Musically, it is increasingly complex. The arrangement of the song is dramatic and the cymbals are mixed to the forefront. The most striking musical component of the song though is what sounds like a harpsichord solo.
The Everly Brothers next single for 1963 is ‘It’s Been Nice (Goodnight)’ (US no. 101, UK no. 26, AUS no. 98). This is a composition by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, the team perhaps best known for writing the 1960 hit ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’ by The Drifters. Although it might be suspected that The Everly Brothers are doing a cover version, they are actually the first to record ‘It’s Been Nice (Goodnight)’. This is a bit more of a rock ‘n’ roll record than some recent Everly Brothers fare with a prominent twangy guitar. However, there are also lots of – very high – female backing vocals that distract a bit from Don and Phil’s harmonies.
The Everly Brothers 1963 single ‘The Girl Sang The Blues’ (UK no. 25, AUS no. 39) is written by the Brill Building team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill. Once again, The Everly Brothers is the first act to record this piece. The narrator of the song fronts a band. On a quiet night, a chick gets up to sing with them. She wins his heart, but she is eventually scooped up by a talent scout and the narrator loses her. ‘The Girl Sang The Blues’ has a shuffling rhythm and a strong piano part.
Starting on 29 September 1963, The Everly Brothers tour the British Isles again. On this occasion, the tour includes two other 1950s rock stars: Bo Diddley and, from 5 October, Little Richard. More interesting is their British support act, The Rolling Stones, who are doing their first national tour and are not yet as famous as they will soon become.
Warner Brothers issues ‘The Everly Brothers Sing Great Country Hits’ (1963) in October. As the title suggests, this disc has Don and Phil performing cover versions of country music tunes. The Everly Brothers’ previous label, Cadence, puts out the compilation album ’15 Everly Hits’ (1963).
The compilation album ‘The Very Best Of The Everly Brothers’ (1964) is a milestone. Up to this point, every Everly Brothers compilation album has been compromised. The duo’s career has been spread primarily between two labels: Cadence (1957-1960) and Warner Brothers (1960 onwards). The compilations issued by Cadence couldn’t include the Warners material and vice versa. This Warners compilation gets around that problem by making new recordings of the Cadence hits in Nashville with most of the musicians who originally played on the same songs. So, on this set hits from Cadence (e.g. ‘Bye Bye Love’) can (in their new rerecorded forms) sit alongside hits from Warners (e.g. ‘Cathy’s Clown’).
1964 also brings some peace between The Everly Brothers and former manager Wesley Rose and, consequently, also songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant who are contracted to Acuff-Rose, the publishing company run by Wesley Rose.
‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ (1964), released in December, is an Everly Brothers album released on the Warner Brothers label. ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ is home to three Everly Brothers singles released over 1963-1964. The first of the three, ‘Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby’ (US no. 133), was released in 1963. ‘Ain’t That Lovin’ You, Baby’ is a twangy electric rock song. Actually, it’s a cover version of an upbeat blues song from 1956 by Jimmy Reed. The 1964 Everly Brothers single ‘The Ferris Wheel’ (US no. 72, UK no. 22) (also included on this album) is co-written by Dewayne Blackwell and Ronald Blackwell. ‘The Ferris Wheel’ is slow and soulful with ear-catching drum rolls. Lyrically, it counts off various fairground attractions but the catch is that the singer doesn’t like the Ferris wheel anymore because it brings back memories of times spent with the girl who has now left him. The title track, ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ (US no. 31, UK no. 36, AUS no. 30), is co-written by Don Everly and Phil Everly. It is also issued as a single in 1964. It is the song’s narrator who is ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’, having split from the girl who did him wrong. It’s a hip-shaking rock song that sounds very much like a 1960s take on 1950s rock. It’s the kind of thing that would show up in contemporaneous Elvis Presley movies. ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ (the album) includes two Don Everly compositions (‘The Facts Of Life’ and ‘The Drop Out’) as well as some songs by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, their first offerings recorded by The Everly Brothers since 1960.
Not included on ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ is the single ‘You’re The One I Love’, which was released between the singles ‘The Ferris Wheel’ and ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’. This song is co-written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. “Baby, don’t be afraid to love me,” urge the lyrics. ‘You’re The One I Love’ is a bit dramatic with stop and start rhythms and an oddly European feel. It fails to make any mark on the popular sales charts. From this point, only Everly Brothers singles that chart will be discussed here – with a few notable other songs thrown in as well.
The first Everly Brothers single for 1965, ‘You’re My Girl’ (US no. 110), is another stand-alone effort that does not appear on an album. ‘You’re My Girl’ is co-written by Don and Phil Everly. This track has surprisingly strong electric guitars as well as a piano underpinning. Like the earlier ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’, ‘You’re My Girl’ also sounds distinctly 1960s while also trying to evoke the spirt of 1950s rock ‘n’ roll.
‘Rock ‘N’ Soul’ (1965), released in March, is the next album by The Everly Brothers. This disc is produced by Dick Glasser. He will also produce the next five albums by The Everly Brothers. ‘Rock ‘N’ Soul’ consists of cover versions of earlier rock ‘n’ roll tunes by other acts. For example, the single ‘That’ll Be The Day’ (US no. 111, UK no. 30) is a cover version of a 1957 Buddy Holly hit. The Everly Brothers interpretation of ‘That’ll Be The Day’ is a bit more stiff-legged and staccato than the original.
Two singles are released by The Everly Brothers in 1965 between ‘Rock ‘N’ Soul’ and their next album. However both of these tracks are not on the album that follows ‘Rock ‘N’ Soul’; they are held over until the album after that. The impressively florid ‘The Price Of Love’ (US no. 104, UK no. 2) is co-written by Don Everly and Phil Everly. Over a big striding beat, jagged electric guitars compete with an enthusiastic harmonica. The lyrics tartly observe that, “Wine is sweet, gin is bitter / Drink all you can, but you won’t forget her.” ‘I’ll Never Get Over You’ (UK no. 35) is also co-written by The Everly Brothers. This track is a bit more country-oriented but still has strong rock elements and an insistent harmonica.
‘Beat & Soul’ (1965) (US no. 141), released in August, follows only five months after ‘Rock ‘N’ Soul’. Once again, most of this album consists of cover versions. The single from this set is a cover version of Mickey & Sylvia’s 1956 song ‘Love Is Strange’ (US no.128, UK no. 11). It is a tuneful pop song with a spoken word mid-section and a clock-like percussive effect. It is worth noting that The Everly Brothers still attract an impressive array of backing musicians. For example, on ‘Love Is Strange’ Don and Phil are backed by: Glen Campbell (guitar), James Burton (guitar), Sonny Curtis (guitar), Billy Preston (piano), Larry Knechtel (bass) and Jim Gordon (drums). One of the small number of new songs on this album is ‘Man With Money’, co-written by Don Everly and Phil Everly. This is a musically vivid little morality play about a young man drawn to crime by a desire to have sufficient financial wherewithal to command respect and win a woman’s love.
‘In Our Image’ (1966), released in January, is The Everly Brothers album that includes the 1965 singles ‘The Price Of Love’ and ‘I’ll Never Get Over You’. Both of those songs were co-written by Don Everly and Phil Everly. Another track on this set, ‘It Only Costs A Dime’, is also jointly written by the two siblings. Also present on this album is ‘It’s All Over’, a song written by Don Everly alone.
‘Two Yanks In England’ (1966) is released in July, six months after ‘In Our Image’. As the title suggests, The Everly Brothers record this album in Great Britain. Specifically, ‘Two Yanks In England’ is recorded at Pye Studios in London from 16 May 1966 to 2 June 1966. Eight of the twelve tracks on this set are credited to a songwriter named L. Ransford. However, L. Ransford is just a pseudonym for three members of the British pop group The Hollies: Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks and Graham Nash. Two songs are cover versions of 1966 hits by a pair of British acts: The Spencer Davis Group’s ‘Somebody Help Me’ and Manfred Mann’s ‘Pretty Flamingo’. Rounding out the album are ‘Kiss Your Man Goodbye’ (co-written by Don Everly and Phil Everly) and ‘The Collector’ (co-written by Don Everly, Phil Everly and Sonny Curtis).
‘The Hit Sound Of The Everly Brothers’ (1967), released in February, has no songs written by either Don or Phil Everly. All the material is cover versions or compositions from other authors.
‘The Everly Brothers Sing’ (1967) is released in July, five months after the duo’s previous album. ‘The Everly Brothers Sing’ is most famous as the home of The Everly Brothers’ last U.S. top forty hit, a song called ‘Bowling Green’ (US no. 40). It has a groovy 1960s vibe with piping flutes and backing harmonies. ‘Bowling Green’ is, according to the lyrics, “Where the prettiest girls I’ve ever seen” live. Bowling Green is a real city in Kentucky. The song ‘Bowling Green’ is co-written by Terry Slater and Phil Everly’s wife, Jacqueline Ertel. Terry Slater contributes another four songs to this album. Don Everly and Phil Everly co-write ‘I Don’t Want To Lose You’. Don Everly’s ‘It’s All Over’ – which previously appeared on ‘In Our Image’ – is revisited here.
The Everly Brothers’ version of ‘Love Of The Common People’ (US no. 114) is released as a stand-alone single in 1967. ‘Love Of The Common People’ was first recorded by The Four Preps in January 1967 – and will be covered by British singer Paul Young in 1982. ‘Love Of The Common People’ is a tribute to working class, salt-of-the-earth folks. The Everly Brothers’ interpretation sounds very much of its era with soaring strings and flutes.
1968 brings two more stand-alone singles by The Everly Brothers. “It’s my time to cry,” they sing in their cover version of John D. Loudermilk’s 1967 song ‘It’s My Time’ (US no. 112, UK no. 39). This is basically a country music song but is rather more musically expansive than typical country material with a string section in the middle part with what sounds like added flutes. ‘Milk Train’ (AUS no. 98) is written by Tony Romeo, but The Everly Brothers is the first act to record it. The narrator notes that the locomotive that used to rattle his railroad shack doesn’t stop here anymore so he no longer sees a certain well-dressed lady from the city. The neat musical arrangement has a controlled momentum to it.
The Everly Brothers’ ‘Roots’ (1968) is characterised as ‘their last magnificent hurrah.’ This set is co-produced by Gordon Anderson and Lenny Waronker. ‘Roots’ is reminiscent of The Everly Brothers’ earlier album ‘Songs Our Daddy Taught Us’. It is a collection of traditional songs like ‘Shady Grove’ and ‘T For Texas’, snippets of songs they recorded as children for their parents’ radio show and a slowed down reworking of Don Everly’s ‘I Wonder If I Care As Much’, the second song they recorded for Cadence. To some, ‘Roots’ fits into the nascent country rock genre being pioneered by the likes of The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Byrds.
Both Don Everly and Phil Everly give up on smoking cigarettes in the late 1960s. Given their history, Don appears to be the one more predisposed to addictive behaviour but, in this instance, it is Phil – not Don – who will later resume smoking cigarettes.
The Everly Brothers find themselves playing lots of Las Vegas shows. They have become ‘youthful oldies.’ They can always get gigs, but feel shut out of the contemporary rock scene. “The 1960s weren’t my cup of tea,” Phil Everly later acknowledges. Regarding the consumption of drugs and alcohol, Phil observes, “In the 1950s, we were all pretty sane compared to the 1960s.”
Harmony Records issues the compilation Everly Brothers album ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ (1969).
Venetia Stevenson files for a divorce from Don Everly in 1970. She previously filed for a divorce in 1963, but she and Don reconciled. No such amends are made this time. The divorce is finalised a year later. Don claims they had a “miserable marriage” in which his spouse made him feel like some “country boy.”
Shortly after splitting up with Venetia Stevenson, Don Everly begins dating Ann Marshall. This is the same woman his younger brother Phil dated for a while in 1962. This gives Ann Marshall the odd distinction of being the only woman to be romantically involved with both Everly Brothers – albeit at different times. Don dates Ann until 1972 when she leaves him on her 30th birthday. This ironically echoes how Phil Everly dumped her on her 20th birthday in 1962. Afterwards, Ann Marshal writes to Margaret Everly, Don and Phil’s mother, and thanks her for not having any more sons.
Phil Everly’s wife, Jacqueline Ertel, files for divorce in February 1970. A lengthy custody battle over their son Jason follows before the divorce is finalised in 1972.
‘The Everly Brothers Show’ (1970) is a live album released in July. It was recorded at an Everly Brothers gig at the Grand Hotel in Anaheim, California, on 6 February 1970. ‘The Everly Brothers Show’ is the last new Everly Brothers album released by Warner Brothers. The duo moves to RCA for their next new album.
‘The Everly Brothers Show’ is a weekly television variety program which airs on the U.S. ABC Network from 8 July 1970 to 9 September 1970 for a total of ten episodes. Although it shares a title with The Everly Brothers’ live album, they are otherwise unrelated; the live album is not the soundtrack to the TV series. Among the famous names who guest-star on television’s ‘The Everly Brothers Show’ are: Neil Diamond (episode 3 – 22 July 1970); Brenda Lee (episode 4 – 29 July 1970); Tina Turner (episode 5 – 5 August 1970); Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Wonder (both in episode 6 – 12 August 1970); Rick Nelson (episode 9 – 2 September 1970); and Don and Phil’s father, Ike Everly (episode 10 – 9 September 1970 – the final episode).
Harmony Records’ ‘Chained To A Melody’ (1970) by The Everly Brothers is actually a rerelease of the Warner Brothers album ‘In Our Image’ (1966). Barnaby Records issues The Everly Brothers compilation album ‘Original Greatest Hits’ (1970) (US no. 180).
‘Don Everly’ (1971), issued by Ode Records, is a solo album by the senior sibling of The Everly Brothers.
Barnaby Records issues the two disc Everly Brothers compilation album ‘End Of An Era’ (1971).
‘Stories We Could Tell’ (1972), released in March, is The Everly Brothers’ first album for RCA. It is produced by Paul Rothchild. The title track, ‘Stories We Could Tell’, is written by John Sebastian from U.S. folk rock group The Lovin’ Spoonful. The Everly Brothers is actually the first act to record the song; John Sebastian does not record his own version until 1974. ‘Green River’ is co-written by Don Everly and Phil Everly and should not be confused with the 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival song of the same name. ‘Up In Mabel’s Room’ is co-written by Phil Everly and Terry Slater. Don Everly’s composition ‘I’m Tired Of Singing My Song In Las Vegas’ is perhaps autobiographical and hints at the stresses in The Everly Brothers by this time. ‘Stories We Could Tell’ fails to make it to the popular album charts. Switching from Warner Brothers to RCA does not improve the commercial fortunes of The Everly Brothers.
Phil Everly marries his second wife, Patricia Mickey, on 15 August 1972. Patricia Mickey (born on 3 July 1950) is 20 years old when she first meets Phil Everly. She is one of The Golddiggers (1968-1992), a troupe of female singers and dancers in the style of Las Vegas showgirls. The Golddiggers debut on ‘The Dean Martin Show’, a television variety program hosted by the legendary Hollywood showbiz singer and actor Dean Martin. The Everly Brothers make a guest appearance on ‘The Dean Martin Show’ and this is when Phil and Patricia meet. The girls branch into their own program, ‘Dean Martin Presents The Golddiggers’ (1969-1970), though Patricia Mickey is not part of the troupe in the latter phase of their program or, of course, The Golddiggers much lengthier career in general. Patricia Mickey has acting ambitions and appears in the television series ‘The Sixth Sense’ (1972 – one episode) and ‘Emergency!’ (1972 – six episodes). Phil Everly and Patricia Mickey marry eighteen months after they meet – and six months after Phil’s divorce from his first wife, Jacqueline Ertel. Phil and Patricia go on to have a son together, Christopher Isaac (born on 25 September 1974).
Warwick Records issues an Everly Brothers compilation album, ‘Living Legends’ (1972).
A future member of Anglo-American pop and rock group Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham tours with The Everly Brothers in 1972.
‘Pass The Chicken & Listen’ (1973) is The Everly Brothers’ second – and final – album for RCA. It performs as poorly as its predecessor. This country rock set is produced by guitarist Chet Atkins.
Two Everly Brothers compilation albums are released this year: ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ (1973) from Capitol Records and ‘The History Of The Everly Brothers’ (1973) from Barnaby Records.
On 13 July 1973 Don Everly announces he intends to leave The Everly Brothers for a solo career. The next night, 14 July 1973, their farewell show at Knott’s Berry Farm in California is interrupted by the venue’s entertainment director, Bill Hollingshead, because of ‘what he feels is a poor performance by Don.’ Phil Everly smashes his guitar on the stage and walks off. Don Everly says, “The Everly Brothers died ten years ago.” Years later, Phil Everly says, “What we needed was to take a long vacation…but in those days we couldn’t.”
Don Everly records another solo album for Ode Records, ‘Sunset Towers’ (1974), which includes the single ‘Warmin’ Up The Band’ (US no. 110). In the mid-1970s, Don has a backing band called The Dead Cowboys. He also plays some gigs with noted guitarist Albert Lee. In 1976 Don Everly signs a recording contract with Hickory Records in Nashville and that label releases his solo album ‘Brother Jukebox’ (1976). Don performs solo in London, England, in mid-1976 and at the Wembley Country Festival in London in 1977.
Don Everly marries his third wife, Karen Prettyman, on 5 May 1975. Don meets Karen in 1972 when The Everly Brothers perform on ‘The David Frost Show.’ Karen is a producer on that television program. She tours with Don and Phil until The Everly Brothers split up in 1973. Don claims that at least part of the reason he decides to leave The Everly Brothers is that Karen has been seriously ill since 1972. This makes Don reconsider his life and ‘find a whole new set of values.’ Karen Prettyman acts as Don Everly’s manager during his solo career. They leave Hollywood and move to Nashville. Don Everly’s marriage to Karen Prettyman ends in divorce in 1983. She passes away in 1997 following a battle with the debilitating illness multiple sclerosis.
Phil Everly records one solo album, ‘Star Spangled Springer’ (1973), for RCA. Switching to Pye, he follows that album with ‘Phil’s Diner’ (1974), ‘There’s Nothing Too Good For My Baby’ (1975) and ‘Mystic Line’ (1975). Phil Everly’s ‘Living Alone’ (1979) is released by Elektra. The 1982 singles ‘Louise’ (UK no. 52), ‘She Means Nothing To Me’ (UK no. 9) (a duet with Cliff Richard) and ‘Sweet Pretender’ (UK no. 79) all come from the Capitol Records release ‘Phil Everly’ (1983). The last-named disc also has musical guest appearances from guitarist Mark Knopfler (from Dire Straits) and drummer Terry Williams (from Rockpile – though he will later also be a member of Dire Straits).
Phil Everly resumes his cigarette smoking habit during the break-up of The Everly Brothers.
Phil Everly’s marriage to his second wife, Patricia Mickey, ends in divorce in October 1977. Patricia wanted to resume her acting career but Phil disapproved and this conflict leads to the split between them. As Patricia Everly she appears in one episode guest-shots on the television shows ‘The Young And The Restless’ (1973), ‘Fantasy Island’ (1977) and ‘Simon & Simon’ (1981).
From 1974 to 1983 The Everly Brothers musical legacy is recycled in a series of compilation albums – and one album of previously unreleased material. These albums are: ‘Don & Phil’s Fabulous Fifties Treasury’ (1974) (Janus); ‘The Everly Brothers’ Greatest Hits’ (1974) (Barnaby); ‘Wake Up Again’ (1974) (GRT Records); ‘Walk Right Back With The Everlys (20 Golden Hits)’ (1975) (Warner Brothers); ‘Everlys’ (1975) (RCA Records); ‘Greatest Hits Vol. 1’ (1977) (Barnaby); ‘Greatest Hits Vol. 2’ (1977) (Barnaby); ‘Greatest Hits Vol. 3’ (1977) (Barnaby); ‘The New Album’ (October 1977) (Warner Brothers) [previously unreleased material, mostly recorded in the 1960s]; and ‘The Everly Brothers’ (1981) (Teldec).
During 1974 to 1983 Don Everly and Phil Everly barely have any contact with each other at all. The major exception is when they both attend the funeral of their father, Ike Everly, in 1975. Ike Everly dies from a condition commonly referred to as ‘black lung disease,’ a build-up of coal dust in his lungs from his youthful days as a coal miner in Kentucky.
On 30 June 1983 Don Everly and Phil Everly announce they will reunite as The Everly Brothers. “We settled it in a family kind of way,” claims Phil. “A big hug did it.” The reunion concert takes place at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England, on 23 September 1983. It is recorded for the live album ‘The Everly Brothers Reunion Concert’ (1983) (US no. 162, UK no. 47) issued on Passport Records. A video broadcast of the same show is aired on the cable television channel HBO in mid-January 1984.
Around this time Don Everly is romantically involved with a ‘sometime singer’ named Diane Craig. Although they are described as ‘inseparable,’ the relationship does not seem to last beyond 1983-1984.
‘EB ‘84’ (1984) (US no. 44, UK no. 36) is the first new Everly Brothers studio-recorded album in eleven years. This set is produced by famed British singer and guitarist Dave Edmunds. ‘EB ‘84’ is the first of three Everly Brothers albums on the Mercury label. This album features ‘On The Wings Of A Nightingale’ (US no. 50, UK no. 41, AUS no. 78). The song is written by Paul McCartney, whose harmonies with John Lennon in the 1960s British rock band The Beatles were inspired by Don and Phil Everly’s work. The protagonist of the song claims that love makes him feel like he is on the wings of a nightingale. Musically, the track is quite basic and unadorned. Its most distinctive touches are volleys of acoustic guitar strums and a bird twittering at the end. ‘On The Wings Of A Nightingale’ actually sounds closer to the works of producer Dave Edmunds than the songs of its author, Paul McCartney. Another famous name who contributes a new song to this album is Jeff Lynne (from Electric Light Orchestra) who submits ‘The Story Of Me’. Also present is a cover version of the 1969 Bob Dylan song ‘Lay Lady Lay’. Don Everly pens three songs for ‘EB ‘84’: ‘Following The Sun’, ‘You Make It Seem So Easy’ and ‘Sleep’. A measure of the esteem in which The Everly Brothers are still held can be determined by the guest musicians on this album: Dave Edmunds (guitar, bass), Albert Lee (guitar), Paul McCartney (guitar), Richard Tandy (from Electric Light Orchestra) (keyboards), Jeff Lynne (bass, arrangements) and Terry Williams (drums).
The return of The Everly Brothers to the recording studio also prompts a flurry of compilation albums: ‘Everly Brothers – 24 Original Classics’ (1984) (Arista); ‘Home Again’ (1985) (RCA Victor); ‘All They Had To Do Was Dream’ (1985) (Rhino Entertainment) [recordings from 1957-1960]; and ‘Cadence Classics – Their 20 Greatest Hits’ (1985) (Rhino).
The Everly Brothers is one of the first ten acts inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
‘Born Yesterday’ (1986) (US no. 83) continues The Everly Brothers’ return to recording. Like its predecessor ‘EB ‘84’, this album is produced by Dave Edmunds. The title track, ‘Born Yesterday’, is a Don Everly composition. This set includes three notable cover versions: the 1957 Sam Cooke hit ‘You Send Me’; ‘Abandoned Love’, a song Bob Dylan recorded for his ‘Desire’ (1976) album but which went unreleased until Dylan’s compilation set ‘Biograph’ (1985); and ‘Why Worry’ from the Dire Straits album ‘Brothers In Arms’ (1985). In 1986, Don Everly is described as ‘darker-haired and bulkier’ than his sibling while Phil Everly is ‘slender and weathered.’
‘Some Hearts’ (1988) is the final new studio recorded album by The Everly Brothers. This album is co-produced by The Everly Brothers and Larrie Londin (who plays drums on this album). A cover version of the 1964 Beach Boys song ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ (AUS no. 86) becomes The Everly Brothers’ final charting single. This song is a duet between The Beach Boys and The Everly Brothers. Like The Beatles, The Beach Boys’ harmonies were also inspired by The Everly Brothers. This rendition of ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ sounds much the same as The Beach Boys’ original – though it has a bit longer vocal mid-section. The title track, ‘Some Hearts’, is written by Don Everly. Three songs on this album are co-written by Phil Everly and John Durrill. U.S. singer, guitarist and songwriter John Hiatt co-writes ‘Any Single Solitary Heart’ with Mike Porter for this album. Albert Lee contributes some guitarwork to the songs on this disc. ‘Some Hearts’ fails to make any mark on the album charts.
Castle Records issues the compilation album ‘The Everly Brothers’ (1988).
On 28 April 1990 Erin Everly marries Axl Rose. Erin Everly is the second youngest of Don Everly’s children. Axl Rose is the lead singer of U.S hard rock band Guns ‘N Roses. Erin and Axl started dating in 1986. Erin Everly is reputedly the subject of Guns ‘N Roses 1988 hit ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ (US no. 1, UK no. 6, AUS no. 11). Erin Everly becomes pregnant by Axl Rose in September 1990 but miscarries. The couple separate in January 1991 and the marriage ends after less than a year.
Bear Family Records issues the compilation album ‘Classic Everly Brothers’ (1992). ‘Walk Right Back On Warner Bros. 1960-1969’ (1993) is, of course, a compilation album of The Everly Brothers’ recordings for the Warner Brothers record label. ‘Heartaches And Harmonies’ (1994) is a box set of one hundred and three Everly Brothers songs. Rhino assembles this set from the duo’s recordings for Cadence and Warner Brothers together with some other odds and ends. Phil Everly releases a new version of ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ (UK no. 14) with Cliff Richard, rather than Don Everly, as a one-off single in 1994. BCI Music issues the concert recording ‘Everly Brothers Live’ (1996).
In 1996 The Everly Brothers record ‘Cold’, a song for the musical ‘Whistle Down the Wind’ by Jim Steinman and Andrew Lloyd Webber. This is fated to be the final original recording by The Everly Brothers as a duo.
On 22 March 1997 Don Everly marries his fourth wife, Adela Garza (born in 1969). Don is 60 and Adela is 28. She is born the year after the youngest of Don’s children. Don and Adela first meet at a bar in Nashville. Don credits Adela with ‘revitalising his passion for music and forcing him to finally outgrow his rock star lifestyle.’ Shortly after their marriage, Adela is arrested for driving under the influence. When she is pulled over by the police, additional charges are added for attempting to pull a concealed handgun on the officers and possession of the drug OxyContin. Adela will be arrested again in 2013 after a fight between Don Everly and her twin sister.
‘The Everly Brothers Live In Paris 1963’ (1997) is a historical concert recording released by Big Beat Records.
Don Everly and his son Edan perform together as The Everly Brothers in 1999 for the charity concert ‘The Everly Brother for Kentucky Flood Relief.’
On 23 August 1999 Phil Everly marries his third wife, Patrice (‘Patti’) Yvonne Arnold (born in 1957). Phil is 60 years old and Patti is 42 years old. Phil and Patti first meet in 1994 at Phil’s New Year’s Eve party. She comes along with some friends of Phil’s son. Neither Phil nor Patti want to rush in to marriage so they wait five years before taking the plunge. The marriage takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada, after an Everly Brothers show in that city. After marrying, Patti quits her job as a police dispatcher. She joins The Everly Brothers on tour.
Phil Everly quits smoking cigarettes in 2001. He previously quit in the late 1960s but started again as The Everly Brothers were breaking up (1973) and continued until now.
The Everly Brothers retire from touring in 2002 – though they still play occasional shows. They make some guest appearances on the ‘Old Friends’ tour by Simon And Garfunkel in 2003-2004. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s career together in the 1960s involved them using harmonies inspired by The Everly Brothers. Simon And Garfunkel have largely pursued solo careers since 1970 but have also had occasional reunions – such as this ‘Old Friends’ tour.
The Everly Brothers’ music continues to be repackaged in the following albums: ‘Stories We Could Tell – The RCA Years’ (2003) (BMG) [This set repackages ‘Stories We Could Tell’ (1972) with eight tracks from ‘Pass The Chicken & Listen’ (1973) for a total of twenty tracks.]; ‘Country Classics’ (2004) (BMG) [songs recorded from 1972 to 1985]; ‘Too Good To Be True’ (14 June 2005) (Varese Sarabande) [This is previously unreleased material, nearly all of which comes from 1957 to 1960. There are fifteen Don Everly songs and three Phil Everly songs including alternate takes of Don and Phil’s ‘Should We Tell Him’ from 1958 and Phil’s ‘When Will I Be Loved’ from 1960.]; ‘Give Me A Future’ (27 September 2005) (Varese Sarabande) [This is a sequel to ‘Too Good To Be True’ featuring previously unreleased material from early in the career of The Everly Brothers.]; ‘Studio Outtakes’ (2005) (Bear Family Records); ‘The Price Of Fame’ (2005) (Bear Family Records); and ‘Chained To A Melody’ (2006) (Bear Family Records).
Phil Everly’s last public appearance is in 2011 when the late Buddy Holly is given a star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame. Phil is diagnosed with obstructive pulmonary disease in 2011. His wife, Patti, blames this on Phil’s smoking. Although he gave up cigarettes in 2001, his lungs were already damaged. Due to lung disease, Phil Everly has to tote oxygen tanks around with him. He must also take twenty different medications per day. Sixteen days before he would turn 75, Phil Everly dies from complications associated with his medical problems on 3 January 2014 at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California. “I always thought I’d be the one to go first,” says his older brother, Don Everly. He says that it was “a very difficult life together” due to ‘their vastly different views on politics and life.’ Don voted for the Democrats; Phil voted for the Republicans. “I always thought of him every day, even when we were not speaking to each other,” Don says. He concludes, “I still can’t believe he’s gone.”
Sony issues the compilation album ‘Country = The Everly Brothers’ (2012).
In 2016 Don Everly supports the (unsuccessful) Presidential campaign of Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton. It is Don Everly’s first public political gesture. Don and his late brother, Phil Everly, had very different political views but, since Phil has passed away, Don now feels free to voice his political opinions.
When The Everly Brothers decided in 1957 to record ‘Bye Bye Love’, it was a song that had been rejected by thirty other acts. Despite this, it became the first hit single by The Everly Brothers. It is possible to draw a parallel between the fates of ‘Bye Bye Love’ and The Everly Brothers. In 1957 The Everly Brothers were in a similar position of having been rejected. Their first record label, Columbia, dropped them after a failed single in 1956. The Everly Brothers then went through a disheartening process of auditioning for about ten different record company executives and being rejected over and over again. Eventually, the duo scored a new recording contract with Cadence Records. There was a certain poetic symmetry in The Everly Brothers’ first single for Cadence being a song that had been rejected multiple times. It was an underdog song for an underdog act. Yet, just as ‘Bye Bye Love’ became a hit for The Everly Brothers, so too did The Everly Brothers become a hit act for Cadence Records. There is an argument that The Everly Brothers’ best work was recorded during their time with Cadence (1957-1960). However, at least some of their subsequent work at Warner Brothers (1960-1970) was too good to casually dismiss. It seems more accurate to say that their golden age lasted from their first hit ‘Bye Bye Love’ (1957) to their last U.S. top ten single ‘That’s Old Fashioned (That’s How Love Should Be)’ (1962). Depending on their devotion to The Everly Brothers, others may extend that golden age to their last U.S. top forty hit ‘Bowling Green’ (1967) or their 1973 temporary break-up or their last charting single ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ (1988) or perhaps just the duo’s whole career. “Don and I are infamous for our split [1973-1983], but we’re closer than most brothers,” claimed Phil Everly. “We never followed trends. We did what we liked and followed our instincts,” said Don Everly. ‘The Everly Brothers sang about love, always love, and always with ingenuous passion and conviction.’ ‘Their unique sound remains one of the most enduring in rock music, as well as one of the most influential.’
- ‘The Rolling Stone Illustrated History Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘Rockabilly’ by Peter Guralnick, ‘The Everly Brothers’ by Kit Rachlis, ‘Brill Building Pop’ by Greg Shaw, ‘The Sound of Texas’ by Ed Ward (Plexus Publishing, 1992), p. 68, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 152, 252
- wikipedia.org as at 9 March 2018
- ‘Rolling Stone Rock Almanac’ by the Editors of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (Papermac, 1984) p. 29, 32, 37, 38, 39, 41, 48, 49, 53, 54, 61, 62, 63, 80, 174, 216, 365
- ‘Rolling Stone’ (U.S. rock magazine) ‘The Everly Brothers: The Rolling Stone Interview’ by Kurt Loder (8 May 1986) (reproduced on rollingstone.com)
- ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 78, 123
- ‘The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock’ by Nick Logan, Bob Woffinden (Salamander Books, 1978) p. 14, 76, 77
- brainyquote.com as at 11 March 2018
- allmusic.com – ‘The Everly Brothers’ by Richie Unterberger as at 11 March 2018
- Internet Movie Database – imdb.com – as at 12 March 2018
- whosdatedwho.com as at 10 March 2018
- everlything.tumblr.com by ‘KLCHAPS’ as at 10 March 2018
- ‘The Very Best Of The Everly Brothers’ – Anonymous sleeve notes (Warner Brothers Records Inc., 1964) p. 2, 3
- ‘Friday On My Mind’ by Ed Nimmervoll (Five Mile Press, 2004) p. 30
- ‘Buddy Holly: The Definitive Biography of Buddy Holly’ by Philip Norman (London: Macmillan, 1996) via 2 (above) [The Everly Brothers]
- google lyrics as at 12 March 2018 [‘Problems’, ‘You’re The One I Love’, ‘Bowling Green’, ‘It’s My Time’]
- secondhandsongs.com as at 18 March 2018 [‘I’m Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail’, ‘The Girl Sang The Blues’, ‘Milk Train’]
- australianrockpoptours50s60s.blogspot.com.au – ‘The Everly Brothers/Sal Mineo/Tab Hunter 1959 Australian Tour’ by ‘rockinluke’ (6 January 2013)
- lyricsfreak.com as at 12 March 2016 [‘Like Strangers’, ‘Temptation’, ‘Don’t Ask Me To Be Friends’, ‘No One Can Make My Sunshine Smile’]
- The Everly Brothers Topic (You Tube) ‘How Can I Meet Her?’ (4 March 2015), ‘Love Is Strange’ (26 March 2016)
- revolvy.com as at 23 March 2018 [‘It’s Been Nice’]
- discogs.com as at 25 March 2018 [‘You’re My Girl’ (single), ‘End Of An Era’ LP, ‘Don & Phil’s Fifties Treasury’ LP, ‘Walk Right Back With The Everlys (20 Golden Hits)’ LP, ‘Country Classics’ LP]
- ‘People’ (U.S. magazine) ‘Don and Phil Everly End a Discordant Decade Apart to Harmonize Sweetly Again’ by Jim Jerome (23 January 1984) (reproduced on people.com)
- articlebio.com – ‘Axl Rose and Erin Everly Divorced Because of a Miscarriage? What is Erin Everly Currently Doing? Does she have a Boyfriend?’ by ‘Clarence’ (7 September 2011)
- everlybrothers.net – ‘Don and Adela Hat’ post by ‘Mary’ (22 March 2017) [date of Don Everly’s wedding to Adela Garza]
- ‘Los Angeles Times’ (Los Angeles, U.S.A., newspaper) ‘Don Everly on Death of Brother Phil: “I Think About Him Every Day”’ – Don Everly interview conducted by Randy Lewis (3 April 2014) (reproduced on latimes.com)
Song lyrics copyright Acuff-Rose Pub., Inc. – BMI with the exceptions of: ‘Problems’ (Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, House of Bryant Publications); ‘Like Strangers’ (House of Bryant Publications); ‘Walk Right Back’ (Cricket Music, Inc. – BMI); ‘Temptation’ (Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.); ‘Crying In The Rain’ (Aldon Music, Inc. – BMI); Don’t Ask Me To Be Friends’ and ‘Bowling Green’ (both Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC).
Last revised 6 April 2018