R.I.P. Phil Everly


Just heard via the Oracle of O’Malley that Phil Everly has passed on (heart disease). A sad benchmark!

The influence of the Everly Brothers is incaluable: Lennon and McCartney patterned their early sound after them; Simon and Garfunkle modeled their whole act on them. Check the photo above: clearly every British invasion band (and plenty of American garage bands) stole their “look” from them.

They not only sang like angels, but between 1958 and 1962 they had unerring ears for hits, most of them written by the husband and wife team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, a few of them written by Phil and Don themselves (“Til I Kissed You”, “Cathy’s Clown” and “When Will I Be Loved”, the latter of which was a big hit for Linda Ronstandt too  in the 70s). During their heyday the duo had 29 top 40 hits.

I think a lot of the appeal of their records comes from the drama they invest in their performances. In that way that’s so appealing to teenagers, everything is so IMPORTANT, the romances are epic. Some of the songs are just joyful, some are bitter, some are heartbreaking, and some are really funny (“Bird Dog”, “Problems”). What might be lesser known, they also had a lot of traditional material in their repertoire, and hence they were also influential on the folk movement. Their second LP “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us”, released at the height of their fame, was essentially a folk record, containing songs like “Barbara Allen” and “Kentucky”. (Their father Ike had also been a popular musician).

My dad was from the same stock, and the same part of the country as the Everly Brothers, where folks believe in the literal existence of heaven, with a vivid picture in their heads of what it looks like. To Everly, I imagine it looked like the rolling, green hills of his home state.

For more on show biz historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc


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