Given the older demographic here, I suspect many of you will remember the Everly brothers—Don and Phil—whose wonderful and influential harmonies reached us through records and car radios in the late Fifties and Early Sixties. (Many of us in fact learned harmony by singing along to songs like “Devoted to You”.)
According to The Washington Post, Phil Everly died yesterday at 74 of obstructive pulmonary disease:
A woman who answered the phone at his brother’s home told The Washington Post that Mr. Everly died at Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center.
She said Don Everly was too upset to talk. “He expected he’d go first,” she told The Post. [JAC: Don was born two years before Phil.]
The medical center confirmed only that Phil Everly had died there.
“We are absolutely heartbroken,” Patti Everly told the Los Angeles Times, noting that her husband’s disease was the result of a lifetime of cigarette smoking. “He fought long and hard.”
As Wikipedia notes:
They hold the record for the most Top 100 singles by any duo, and trail only Hall & Oates for the most Top 40 singles by a duo. . . In 1986, the Everlys were among the first 10 artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During the ceremony, they were introduced by Neil Young, who observed that every musical group he belonged to had tried and failed to copy the Everly Brothers’ harmonies. . . The duo’s harmony singing had a strong influence on rock groups of the 1960s. The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Simon & Garfunkeldeveloped their early singing styles by performing Everly covers. The Bee Gees, the Hollies and all rock’n’roll groups that feature harmony singing were influenced by the Everlys.
(James Taylor and Carly Simon did a particularly good cover of “Devoted to You” [performance at the link].)
Here are some of their greatest hits; I’ve indicated my favorites with asterisks and will put my own all-time favorite at the bottom (you can find a comprehensive list here). Most of these songs were written by others, but a few, including “‘Till I Kissed You,” “Cathy’s Clown,” and “When Will I Be Loved” were written by one or both of the Everlys.
It’s hard to choose a favorite among the songs with asterisks, but I suppose it would be this one, performed live in 1985. (“Cathy’s Clown” and “Devoted to You” [peformances at links] would be close seconds.) Even twenty-odd years after their heyday, they hadn’t lost a lick. (The original version is here.)
The duo (Phil left, Don right):