We’re all very sad to have to report that Don Everly died at home in Nashville Saturday at 84.
Along with his late brother Phil, who died in 2014, they formed the Everly Brothers, one of the most important early rock groups. Their famous harmonies influenced many performers, particularly the Beatles. Paul McCartney once said that when he and John Lennon first started singing together, “I was Phil, and he was Don.” Keith Richards also called Don Everly “one of the best rhythm guitar players I’ve ever heard.”
Their original hits remain some of the most-played classics of the ‘50s and early ‘60s and have been covered by countless other artists, including “Bye-Bye Love,” “Devoted to You,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” “Till I Kissed You,” “Cathy’s Clown,” “When Will I Be Loved?”, “Let It Be Me,” “Crying in the Rain,” and of course, “Wake Up, Little Susie.” That song reached #1 on both the Billboard Pop and Country charts, despite being banned in Boston due to its “suggestive” lyrics about two teens who ruin their reputations by falling asleep at the drive-in and not waking up until long past curfew. When you look at what’s on the charts now, you can tell that was a very different era indeed.
The pressures of show business, drugs and personal issues caused acrimony between Don and Phil, who each went solo and didn’t speak to each other for years before they reconciled in the early ‘80s. It was such a thrilling turn of events in the music world that their comeback album, “EB84,” was produced by Dave Edmunds with songs contributed by such famous admirers as Jeff Lynne of ELO, Nick Lowe and Paul McCartney, who wrote their comeback hit, “On the Wings of a Nightingale.”
As another duo, the Righteous Brothers (who weren’t actually brothers) once sang, “If there’s a Rock and Roll Heaven, well, you know they’ve got a hell of a band.” Now, that band certainly has two great harmony singers.