Today a major figure in rock history has died: Phil Everly, 74, half of the popular rockabilly-rock duo the Everly Brothers, has died. According to his wife, Patti, Phil died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a disease that was a result of many years of smoking. He had been ill for quite a while.
It's impossible to overstate how important the Everly Brothers were and are to popular music. Their hits were everywhere in the late 1950s, and they had a huge impact on future music acts like the Beatles and the Beach Boys, which included their harmony singing. They even had influenced Bob Dylan, but it didn't do a hell of a lot of good as far as I am concerned. The brothers also had a huge impact on country music. They were among the original inductees in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame when it opened in 1986. Phil's brother Don, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard are the only initial inductees still alive, and all of them are getting up in years.
They even had a variety show for a bit in the late 1960s, and I watched it every week. I believe it was a summer series if I am not mistaken.
According to the obit, the duo charted nearly three dozen hits during their peak years of the late fifties to the early sixties. As a personal note, I can remember the very first song I ever heard as a child, only two years old, in 1957. It was their megahit "Wake Up Little Susie." My sister had that record, and she played it all the time in our house until she got married the following year and took the record with her. I was having withdrawals as a result.
The brothers didn't always have top-quality hits, but they were hits just the same. "Ebony Eyes" comes to mind, since it was about somebody who died. "Death rock" songs usually don't make the grade, at least with me.
This isn't the best quality video, but it is vintage of the duo singing "Bird Dog/Till I Kissed You":
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