Harmony To His Brother’s Melody: The Record: NPR

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The Everly Brothers, Phil (left) and Don, perform in 2004 in London.

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The Everly Brothers, Phil (left) and Don, perform in 2004 in London.

Jo Hale/Getty Images

The tight harmonies and soft guitar strokes of the Everly Brothers influenced an entire generation of popular musicians. Don Everly’s voice usually handled the melody, but Phil Everly gave the highest backing harmony to this melody, and it’s what defined the Everly Brothers sound.

Phil Everly died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on Friday. He was 74 years old.

The brothers’ father, Ike, was a Kentucky coal miner and musician. Ike Everly played country music on the radio and ended up with his own show. Phil Everly was born in Chicago in 1939. Father Ike used to sing his sons, Little Donny and Baby Boy Phil, with their parents live in the morning before they went to school.

By 1955 the brothers were in Nashville, working as songwriters. In 1957, they got their first hit as The Everly Brothers with “Bye Bye Love”.

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Graham Nash recently told WHYY’s Fresh Air that hearing “Bye Bye Love” at a school dance – when he was just around 15 – had a big impact on his career.

“Since that day,” said the Crosby, Stills & Nash co-founder, “I decided that whatever music I was going to do in the future, I wanted it to affect people in the world. same way the Everly Brothers music affected me that Saturday night.”

The sound of the Everly Brothers – a mix of roots, gospel and country music – produced hit after Top 10 hit and inspired artists such as The Beatles, Linda Ronstadt and Simon & Garfunkel.

Over time, however, the brothers fought. During a concert in 1973, Phil smashed his guitar and left the stage. Right there, Don announced that the duo had broken up.

“You know, they’re brothers,” says Jason Everly, Phil Everly’s son. “If you had a brother that you worked with for 50 years, you would be pissed off about certain things, for better or for worse.”

Jason Everly says no matter what the two argued, they always had each other’s backs: “If you said a bad word about my Uncle Don, even though they didn’t get along at the time, he was the one. first person to defend them.”

The duo reunited in 1983 and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. NPR’s Noah Adams spoke with Don Everly shortly after the induction.

“When Phil and I reached that place where I call it The Everly Brothers, I don’t know where it is. Because it’s not me and it’s not him. It’s the two of us together” , said Don. “I sing the lead role so I can fall asleep. Then we’ll come back together and it’ll all happen again. It amazes me sometimes.”

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