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The Everly Brothers : biography

February 1, 1937 -

The Everly Brothers (Isaac Donald "Don" Everly, born February 1, 1937, and Phillip "Phil" Everly, born January 19, 1939) are American country-influenced rock and roll singers, known for steel-string guitar playing and close harmony singing. The duo was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.


Early career

Don was born in Brownie, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, and Phil two years later in Chicago, Illinois. Their father, Ike Everly, was a musician. Ike, with Merle Travis, Mose Rager, and Kennedy Jones, was honored by the construction of The Four Legends Fountain in Drakesboro, Kentucky. Ike Everly had a show on KMA and KFNF in Shenandoah, Iowa, in the 1940s, with his wife Margaret and two young sons. Singing on the show gave the brothers their first exposure to the music industry. The family sang together and lived and traveled in the area singing as the Everly Family. The Everly Brothers grew up from ages 5 and 7 through early high school in Shenandoah. They are the cousins of actor James Best. The Everly family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee and the brothers attended Knox West High School, continuing their musical development and first catching the attention of Chet Atkins.

As the brothers transitioned out of the family act and into a duo, family friend Chet Atkins became an early champion of the Everly Brothers.Lazell, Barry ed., with Dafydd Rees and Luke Crampton, ‘’Rock Movers & Shakers,’’ Billboard Publications, New York, 1989 p. 171 Despite his affiliation with RCA Records, it was Atkins who engineered a chance for the Everly Brothers to record for Columbia Records in early 1956. However, their first and only single for the label, "Keep A' Lovin' Me," was a flop, and they were quickly dropped from Columbia.

Atkins still encouraged the Everly Brothers to continue, and introduced them to Wesley Rose of Acuff-Rose music publishers. Impressed with the duo's songwriting talents, Rose told them that if they signed to Acuff-Rose as songwriters, he would also get them a recording deal. The duo signed to Acuff-Rose in late 1956, and by early 1957 Rose had introduced them to Archie Bleyer, who was looking for artists for his Cadence Records label. The Everlys signed to Cadence, and entered the recording studio for their first Cadence session in February 1957. Their first Cadence single, "Bye Bye Love," had been rejected by 30 other acts (including Elvis Presley), but the Everlys saw potential in the song. Their recording of "Bye Bye Love" reached No. 2 on the pop charts behind Presley's "Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear", hitting No. 1 on the Country and No. 5 on the R&B charts. The song, written by the husband and wife Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, became the Everly Brothers' first million-seller.

They became stalwarts of the Cadence label. Working with the Bryants, the duo had hits in the United States and the United Kingdom, the biggest being "Wake Up Little Susie," "All I Have to Do Is Dream," "Bird Dog" and "Problems," all penned by the Bryants. The Everlys also found success as songwriters, especially with Don's "(Till) I Kissed You," which hit No. 4 on the US pop charts.Whitburn, Joel, ‘’The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits,’’ Billboard Books, NY 1992 p. 165

The brothers toured extensively with Buddy Holly during 1957 and 1958. According to Holly biographer Philip Norman, they were responsible for the change in style for Holly and The Crickets from Levi's and T-shirts to the Everlys' sharp Ivy League suits. Don claimed Holly to be a generous songwriter who wrote the song "Wishing" for them, while Phil later stated: "We were all from the South. We'd started in country music."Philip Norman (1996) Buddy Holly: The Definitive Biography of Buddy Holly, Macmillan: London

Phil Everly was one of Buddy Holly's pallbearers at his funeral in February 1959, although Don did not attend. He later said, "I couldn't go to the funeral. I couldn't go anywhere. I just took to my bed."

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