Everly Brothers Singer-Guitarist Don Everly Dead at 84
Don Everly, who became one of the most influential musicians in early rock and roll as one-half of the Everly Brothers, has died. The Los Angeles Times reports that Everly died at his home in Nashville on Saturday (Aug. 21). He was 84 years old.
A representative for the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer confirmed his death to the Times, but did not offer details on his cause of death.
“Don lived by what he felt in his heart,” Everly’s family tells the Times in a statement. “Don expressed his appreciation for the ability to live his dreams … with his soulmate and wife, Adela, and sharing the music that made him an Everly Brother.”
Born Isaac Donald Everly on Feb. 1, 1937, Everly rocketed to fame in the late '50s alongside his younger brother, Phil, as the Everly Brothers, which went on to become one of the most influential vocal duos of the era. Their crystalline harmonies drew heavily on Applachian country harmonies, and their music, like almost all of early rock and roll, fused traditional country influences with a super-charged rhythm. Don Everly carried the melodies of their songs while Phil sang the distinctive higher harmonies that characterized their sound, and Don's rhythm guitar playing anchored the tracks.
The combination of those elements landed the brothers a string of timeless hits that included "Bye Bye Love," "Wake Up Little Susie," "All I Have to Do Is Dream," "Bird Dog" and "Cathy's Clown," but the harmony that seemed so perfect on stage did not apply to their life together off stage, which was often contentious and fraught with resentment and turmoil.
One of the major differences between the brothers was based on completely different lifestyles; while Phil lived a relatively quiet life away from the spotlight, Don Everly was more flamboyant, hanging out with celebrities and getting involved with drugs, He became badly addicted to Ritalin in the early '60s after a doctor prescribed it for exhaustion, and ultimately attempted suicide in a hotel room in London. According to the Times, he underwent shock treatment as part of his treatment before finally overcoming his addiction.
The duo's commercial prominence began to wane by the mid-'60s, though they issued several well-respected albums, including Roots in 1968, which served as a major influence on the country-rock movement that would later spawn the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles. The Beatles also named the Everly Brothers as a big influence, and Simon & Garfunkel unabashedly admitted they had borrowed elements of their own vocal sound from the duo.
The Everly Brothers broke up acrimoniously in the early '70s after a series of personal disagreements and business troubles, and they each embarked on solo careers for the next decade, though neither one came anywhere close to reaching the commercial and artistic heights of their efforts together.
They reunited in 1983 for a concert at London's Royal Albert Hall, and they spent the next several decades engaging in a series of on-again, off-again reunions and one-off appearances that included singing on Paul Simon's Graceland album. They also toured with Simon & Garfunkel during the latter's Old Friends Tour in 2003, which saw the folk-rock duo finally sharing the stage with their boyhood heroes.
The Everly Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and the Country Music Hall of Fame inducted the duo in 2001.
"As a singer, a songwriter and a guitar innovator, Don Everly was one of the most talented and impactful artists in popular music history," Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young says in a statement. "His influence reverberates through songs like "So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)," "I Wonder if I Care as Much" and "Cathy's Clown," through open tunings and rhythmic sensibilities that helped give rise to Keith Richards and many others, and through the ethereal harmonies he conjured with his brother Phil."
Phil Everly died on Jan. 3, 2014, from complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Don Everly is survived by his mother, Margaret; his wife, Adela; his son, Edan; and his daughters Venetia, Stacy and Erin.