Don Everly, one-half of influential musical duo The Everly Brothers along with his brother Phil, died Saturday (August 22nd) at the age of 84.
“Don lived by what he felt in his heart,” a representative said in a statement. “Don expressed his appreciation for the ability to live his dreams … with his soulmate and wife, Adela, and sharing the music that made him an Everly Brother.” A cause of death was not specified.
The Everly Brothers arrived onto the scene in the late 1950s, performing rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll songs in close harmonies that would influence bands for years to come. Throughout their career, they had over two dozen Top 40 hits, including “Cathy’s Clown,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “All I Have to Do is Dream,” and “Bye Bye Love.” With 35 Top 100 singles, they’re second to only Hall and Oates for most as a duo. For their efforts, The Everly Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class of 1986, and into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
“You could say they were the vocal link between all the 1950s great doo wop groups and what would come in the 1960s with The Beach Boys and The Beatles,” Robert Santelli, executive director of the Grammy Museum, said of The Everly Brothers in 2014 interview with the Los Angeles Times. “They showed The Beach Boys and The Beatles how to sing harmony and incorporate that into a pop music form that was irresistible.”
To that point, early on in their careers The Beatles’ Paul McCartney and John Lennon referred to themselves as “the British Everly Brothers,” and sang a vocal arrangement of “Please Please Me” on “Cathy’s Clown” during a talent show. Paul Simon, whose song “Graceland” features vocals from The Everly Brothers, described the brothers “as the most beautiful sounding duo I ever heard. Both voices pristine and soulful.”
The Everly Brothers’ success began to wane in the early 1960s. The duo found themselves in a dispute with their record label, which prohibited them from working with many of the songwriters behind their early hits. All the while, the brothers’ enlistment in the United States Marine Corps Reserve became active in late 1961, preventing them from taking part in many musical engagements. By the time The Everly Brothers returned in 1963, the British Invasion was taking hold and the brothers’ record sales dwindled.
Between 1973 and 1983, Don and Phil each pursued solo careers. Don notably worked with Emmylou Harris on her 1979 album Blue Kentucky Girl, while Phil collaborated with Roy Wood and Warren Zevon. The brothers later reunited in 1983, enlisting the likes of Paul McCartney, Jeff Lynne, and Dave Edmunds to feature on their comeback album EB 84.
The Everly Brothers recorded two more albums and continued to regularly tour, including as the opening act of Simon and Garfunkel’s reunion in 2003, before disbanding for a second time in 2005.
Phil Everly died in 2014 from lung disease.