Note : This Post is best read in conjunction with the previously published,’Phil Everly Remembered’ from January 2017.
Don Everly was born on February 1st 1937
Don is the elder of the two brothers – almost two years older than Phil.
When they started out on the radio singing before they went to elementary school they were billed as, ‘LIttle Donnie and Baby Boy Phil’.
Don had the deeper baritone tenor voice.
Phil had a pure strong tenor and generally harmonised one third above Don.
Together, singing in harmony for decades, they achieved an ambrosial sound that has never been matched in popular music.
When they started to record it was Don who played the punchy rhythm guitar licks that signalled that though deeply grounded in Country Music these young men were true Rock ‘n’ Rollers who had been listening to the thunderous groove of Bo Diddley.
That influence is unmistakeable from the intro to their breakthrough single ‘Bye, Bye Love’.
As no lesser an authority than Keith Richard put it :
’Don’s acoustic guitar, that rhythm guitar, was rocking man! I guess that rubbed off on me’.
Here’s Don and Phil at their epic, ‘Reunion Concert’ from 1983 showing that they had lost none of their instrumental and vocal potency.
Sadness never sweeter.
Bye, bye Love.
Bye, bye, Happiness
I think I’m gonna Cry.
Bye, bye Love.
It was generally Don who sang the solo parts in Everly Brothers songs.
There was a quality in his voice, a seeming deep acquaintance with the heartaches that assail us all, that never fails to move me deeply.
And, when he and Phil found a song like, ‘All I Have To Is Dream’ they graduated from being upcoming hit makers into an immortal presence in millions of hearts.
Gee whiz. Gee whiz.
Dream, dream, dream.
In 1960 Don wrote, ‘So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)’ allowing The Everly’s to demonstrate their unparalleled control of the slow harmony ballad.
Teddy Thompson (Richard & Linda’s son) said that he had spent thirty years seat hing for singers as good as The Everly Brothers before realising that it was an impossible pursuit.
Who could argue with the truth of that verdict?
Inevitably, two brothers who have been singing together since early childhood will have fallings out and Tne Everlys, deeply contrasting personalities, certainly did.
Working apart tney both made fine records.
I’ve chosen to showcase here a sublime duet recording of a Louvin Brothers song Don cut with Emmylou Harris.
I remember the first time I heard this thinking – Emmylou is a magnificent singer and a great harmoniser but Don Everly, Don Everly! has clearly been blessed with a gift that is very rare indeed.
A gift that he shared in such generous measure with all of us.
Happy Birthday Don.
Thanks for all the songs and all the singing.
I’ll conclude with an Everly Brothers performance of, ‘Kentucky’.
This is singing that goes beyond singing.
Singing that is the heart in pilgrimage and the soul in paraphrase.
The dearest land outside of Heaven.