Phil Everly, one half of the legendary Everly Brothers died on January 3rd, in Burbank, California from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease -- a combination of emphysema and bronchitis, according to The Los Angeles Times. Everly, who was a longtime smoker, was 74. He is survived by his wife Patty, his brother, Don, their mother, Margaret, his sons Jason and Chris, and two granddaughters. Funeral services will be private. The Everly Brothers' music has been back on the charts and critic's lists with the recent release of Foreverly by Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones.
The importance of Phil Everly's voice -- always singing the tight harmony to older brother Don's lead -- was the archetype for the three most important rock harmony singers to follow him, Paul McCartney, Art Garfunkel, and Graham Nash. Phil Everly literally wrote the book on harmony rock singing -- he was the example.
Don Everly issued a statement on his younger brother's death, which reads in full: "I loved my brother very much. I always thought I'd be the one to go first. I was listening to one of my favorite songs that Phil wrote and had an extreme emotional moment just before I got the news of his passing. I took that as a special spiritual message from Phil saying good-bye. Our love was and will always be deeper than any earthly differences we might have had. The world might be mourning an Everly Brother, but I'm mourning my brother Phil Everly. My wife Adela and I are touched by all the tributes we're seeing for Phil and we thank you for allowing us to grieve in private at this incredibly difficult time."
Phil and Don were the sons of a brilliant guitar player, Ike Everly, a Kentucky coal miner who quit the backbreaking low paying job to become a musician in Chicago. After making a name for himself in the Windy City -- he was offered a radio show with wife Margaret and the two boys in Shenandoah, Iowa. Following that, the family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where they first came under the watchful eye of country legend Chet Atkins who eventually secured them a publishing deal. That led to a recording contract with Cadence Records, the home of their classic 1950's singles, which all featured the Everly's expertly crafted harmonies, most of which were based on diatonic thirds, which provides a separate melody line for both singers -- although one is specifically deemed the "melody" and the other the "harmony."
The Everly Brothers were among the forefathers of rock -- along with contemporaries, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, and Jerry Lee Lewis -- all of whom were induced with the Everly's during the 1986 inaugural Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies.
Between 1957 and 1967 the Everly Brothers scored 26 Top 40 hits, including the Top 10's -- "Bye Bye Love," "Bird Dog," "Devoted To You," "Problems," "('Til) I Kissed You" -- written by Don, "Let It Be Me," "When Will I Be Loved" -- written by Phil, "So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)," "Walk Right Back," "Ebony Eyes," "Crying In The Rain," "That's Old Fashioned (That's The Way Love Should Be)" -- along with their three chart-toppers "Wake Up Little Susie," "All I Have To Do Is Dream," and "Cathy's Clown" -- which was co-written by Don and Phil.
In 1960 the Everly Brothers left Cadence for Warner Brothers and became the first Rock n' Roll act to sign a million dollar recording contract. Although always far more popular in Europe, unlike their 1950's peers, the Everly's continues to record, tour -- and although they went nearly three years without a Top 40 hit between 1964 and 1967 -- their albums helped birth the burgeoning country rock genre of the late-'60s. In 1973 the Everly Brothers split and reportedly -- save for their father's 1975 funeral -- didn't speak for an entire decade.
During their time apart, both recorded and performed on their own -- but the shadow of each brother loomed large. In 1983 they reunited at London's Royal Albert Hall, and in 1984 -- with a new single written by Paul McCartney and produced by Dave Edmunds, "On The Wings Of A Nightingale" -- the Everly Brothers released their first new album in over a decade, called EB '84 -- and began a second career recording and touring the world up through the early part of the last decade. "Phil and Don" -- as they were immortalized in Paul McCartney's 1976 Wings hit "Let 'Em In" -- wrapped their performing career in 2003 with a mini-set within Simon & Garfunkel's shows on their Old Friends tour.
Photo courtesy of Everly.net