Just a week ago, singer Phil Everly, one-half of the groundbreaking, smooth-sounding, record-setting duo, the Everly Brothers, died in a hospital in Burbank, Calif. He was 74.
In all my years of playing music and talking with people about the music industry, I have never met anyone who didn’t enjoy the music of Don and Phil Everly. I know I have always been a very big fan of their music.
The Everly Brothers music is as popular with country music enthusiasts as it is with pop music lovers, as evidenced by their success on both the pop and country charts. Their style, a product of their blend of rock ’n’ roll with Appalachian folk, bluegrass and other genres more closely aligned to their Kentucky roots, helped them earn inductions in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Don and Phil, born in the music business, are the offspring of country and western singers Margaret and Ike Everly. Prior to their teenage years, they sang with their parents in live shows and on the radio.
In the mid-1950s, while still teenagers, the Everly boys, on the invitation of famed guitarist, Chet Atkins, moved to Nashville, with the hope of building a recording career.
In 1957, they were given and recorded the song “Bye Bye Love.” According to The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, 30 artists had rejected the song, but the Everly Brothers, with guitar contributions of Chet Atkins, who played on many of their hits, took the song to No. 2 on the pop charts and to a run of seven weeks at No. 1 on the country charts.
That early success catapulted the brothers to a half-century career that would see them hit the Billboard Top-40 chart 26 times, influence artists ranging from The Beatles and the Beach Boys to Linda Ronstadt, Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Young and Alison Krauss.
During their careers, Don usually sang the baritone notes and most of the lead parts while Phil handled the higher range, their voices intertwining beautifully on all of their classic hits.
If you listen carefully to the Everly Brothers’ songs, the influence of Buddy Holly, with whom they toured in the late 1950s, can be heard in their music.
Behind the scenes, the Everly Brothers partnership was not always as smooth as their vocal harmony. They battled drugs, managers and each other. At a California concert in 1973, their feuding erupted onstage and they split, with Phil walking off the stage.
The brothers reunited onstage and in the studio 10 years later, leading to the production of more albums, including “Born Yesterday” and “EB 84,” which included the Paul McCartney-written “On the Wings of a Nightingale,” the Everly Brothers’ last charted hit in 1984.
Their remaining years together were highlighted by occasional performances, hall of fame inductions and various other honors, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.
How very sad it is to have to say so long to Phil Everly. Since he began his career with the hit, “Bye Bye Love,” I guess it’s just fitting to say Bye Bye Phil.
This week’s question
Of the Everly Brothers’ 26 hits that made Billboard’s Top-40 pop chart, 15 made the Top-10 and four made it to No. 1.
Which of the following songs was not a No. 1 hit for the Everly Brothers?
A) “Wake Up Little Susie,” B) “All I Have to do is Dream,” C) “That’ll be the Day,” or D) “Cathy’s Clown”?
If you are the sixth caller and have the correct answer, you’ll win an Everly Brothers Greatest Hits CD. Good luck!
Last week’s question
Last week’s question asked if you could name the New Jersey-born and raised music artist who recorded the 1961 song “Happy New Year, Baby.”
From 1959 through 1969, she charted 56 songs on the Billboard Pop Chart, with three of her hits making it to No. 1 — “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool,” “My Heart has a Mind of its Own” and Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You.”
The choices were A) Peggy Lee, B) Connie Francis, C) Brenda Lee, and D) Shelley Fabares.
The correct answer was Connie Francis.
Peggy Lee was most popular from 1945-1955. Her top song was her 1948 hit “Manana (is Good Enough for Me),” which topped the charts for nine weeks.
Pop-country crossover artist, Brenda Lee, charted her first hit in 1957, at the age of 12. Three years later, her smash hit, “I’m Sorry,” went to No. 1 and later earned induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Later in her career, during the 1970s and ’80s, she charted over 30 country hits, including “Big Four Poster Bed.” She may be best remembered for her holiday song, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
Shelley Fabares’ recording career was short-lived in the early 1960s, but produced the 1962 No. 1 hit “Johnny Angel.”
Congratulations to this past week’s music trivia winner, Grace Mootsey.
Have a great Rim Country week!
DJ Craig, (928) 468-1482, www.djcraiginpayson.com