Phil Everly, Half of Everly Brothers Folk-Rock Duo, Dies at 74

Phil Everly, one half of the chart-topping Everly Brothers, whose close vocal harmonies appealed to folk, country and rock fans alike, has died. He was 74.

Everly died yesterday at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, said Patricia Aidem, a hospital spokeswoman. She declined to comment on the cause of death, though the Associated Press said he died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Phil and his older brother Don grew up in a household with parents who themselves had musical roots in Kentucky’s coal-producing region. In the early ’50s, the family moved from the Midwest to Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Everly Brothers were formed in 1954 with Phil singing the high notes to his brother’s baritone. Three years later, they signed with Cadence Records, releasing their first hit “Bye Bye Love,” accompanied by acoustic guitars. Don was 20 and Phil was 18, and the fresh-faced musicians came onto the scene with matching suits and thick, coiffed hairstyles.

“They simply changed music for the whole world,” Chet Atkins, the late Grammy-winning guitarist, record producer and an early champion of the duo, said in 1989. Rolling Stone website called the Everly Brothers “the most important vocal duo in rock,” with their influence stretching from the Beatles to Simon & Garfunkel.

Grand Ole Opry

The brothers performed for the first time on Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry from the Ryman Auditorium in 1957. From there, their hits quickly accumulated, including “Wake Up Little Susie” from the same year, 1958’s “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” and 1960’s “Cathy’s Clown” under Warner Bros.

Phillip Everly was born in Chicago on January 19, 1939. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve with his brother in the early 1960s. After leaving active duty, the duo struggled to repeat their earlier chart success, just as the Beatles were taking off in the U.S. They later faced addiction and an acrimonious breakup.

The Everly Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997, and entered the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.

Their career together included tours with Buddy Holly as well as their own international performances, almost three dozen hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart, 26 Billboard Top 40 singles, and more than 40 million records sold.

In 1973, they parted ways to pursue solo careers with a focus on country music. A decade later, they reunited with concerts in London, and produced other albums, including “EB 84.”

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