Phil Everly 1939-2014
Phil Everly, one half of the Everly Brothers, has died aged 74.
Everly died in Burbank, California on Friday. The cause, his son Jason Everly told AP, was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
His wife, Patti Everly, told the LA Times: “We are absolutely heartbroken.” She said that the disease was the result of a lifetime of cigarette smoking and added: “He fought long and hard.”
Performing in uncanny harmony with his elder brother, Don, Phil Everly was a superstar in the first phase of rock’n’roll. The pair were raised in country music (their parents were Midwestern country music singers Ike and Margaret Everly, and the boys performed on the family radio show as children), but transformed skills learned from the likes of The Louvin Brothers into pop gold.
Between 1957 and 1962, The Everly Brothers had 19 Top 40 hits, among them 'Wake Up Little Susie', 'Cathy's Clown', 'Bye Bye Love', and 'All I Have To Do Is Dream'. Towards the end of the ‘60s, they moved back towards country and recorded, in 1968, arguably their finest album, ‘Roots’.
A critical influence on innumerable bands who followed in their wake – not least The Beatles - The Everly Brothers were among the first 10 acts to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame when it was launched in 1986.
The Everlys’ reputation was founded on the closeness of their harmonies, but Phil and Don’s relationship was more volatile than it often appeared. The pair broke up acrimoniously in 1973 and reportedly did not speak to one another for a decade, until they reunited in 1983.
Don Everly is yet to comment on the death of his brother. According to The Washington Post, a woman at Don Everly's home said he was too upset to talk, but that "He expected to go first.”
Phil Everly was also credited by singer-songwriter Warren Zevon with providing the title of one of his biggest hits. While Zevon was working as the pianist and bandleader for the Everly Brothers, Phil asked him to write a dance song called 'Werewolves of London'.
Phil Everly is survived by his brother, Don, his wife, Patti, his mother, Margaret, sons Jason and Chris, and two granddaughters.
Visit our dedicated features section, with plenty of our best long pieces archived there. You can find it here.