The Everly Brothers, Don Everly, Obituary, Music News, News

Don Everly of the Everly Brothers Dies at 84

The other half of the Everly Brothers duo - Don Everly - passed away in his Nashville home Saturday (August 21). A spokesperson for the family confirmed his death to The Los Angeles Times, though a cause of death has not been provided yet. He was 84 years old.

“Don lived by what he felt in his heart,” the family wrote in their statement to The Times. “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.”

Several artists have shared tributes to Don Everly on social media, including Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson, Nancy Sinatra, and the Kinks’ Dave Davies. Wilson wrote of the Everly Brothers’ “big influence” on the Beach Boys. “We learned a lot from their beautiful harmonies,” he said.

Don and Phil Everly rose to popularity in the late 1950s and ’60s, with nearly three dozen songs charting on the Billboard Hot 100 and 12 in the top 10. Their most beloved tracks include "Wake Up Little Susie," "Bye Bye Love," and that "dream, dream, dream" song heard on every mattress or sleeping pill commercial, "All I Have to Do is Dream."

Described as “the most important vocal duo in rock” by Rolling Stone, the Everly Brothers influenced several prominent artists like the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Simon and Garfunkel. In 1986, they were among the first 10 artists to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The pair even went on to receive the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

Isaac “Don” Everly was born in Brownie, Kentucky in 1937, but spent most of his childhood in Shenandoah, Iowa. His father, a coal miner turned guitarist, started playing guitar and singing with his wife on his own radio show. In 1945, brothers Don and Phil began singing on air as “Little Donnie” and “Baby Boy Phil,” harmonizing with their parents. After moving to Knoxville, Tennessee as a family in 1953, the brothers caught the attention of "Mr. Guitar" Chet Atkins and moved to Nashville to pursue a record deal with Columbia Records.

In 1956, the duo recorded their first single “Keep a-Lovin’ Me,” penned by Don, for Columbia Records. The song didn't see the success Columbia was hoping for, leading the brothers to find their way to Cadence Records. “Bye Bye Love,” their breakout hit, then arrived in 1957. "Bowling Green," released in 1967, became their final U.S. Top 40 hit.

Don continued recording with his brother until their last performance as the Everly Brothers in July 1973. By that time, the duo's relationship had broken down, and Phil left the stage, leaving Don to finish the set by himself. The two pursued respective solo careers, although with limited success. Don recorded his first solo project in 1970, but didn't see any success until the mid-to-late ’70s in Nashville with his band, the Dead Cowboys.

The brothers reunited in 1983 and played various engagements, but the two became estranged again in their later years until Phil Everly died of lung disease in 2014.

“I always thought about him every day, even when we were not speaking to each other,” Don told The Los Angeles Times shortly following his brother’s death. “It still just shocks me that he's gone.”

Don is survived by his mother, Margaret; his wife, Adela; his son, Edan; and his daughters Venetia, Stacy, and Erin.

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Article Image: Press photo of the Everly Brothers playing guitars in 1970, as part of their TV show that was a summer replacement for Johnny Cash's. Phil is on the left, while Don is on the right. (ABC Television [Available through Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons.)

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About Kathryn Milewski

  • New Jersey