Skip to main content

Don Everly - An Obituary

Don Everly – Singer, songwriter

 Born February 1, 1937; died August 21, 2021


Don Everly, who has died aged 84, was one half of The Everly Brothers, the honey-voiced duo who defined teen angst with a close harmony vocal style loaded with yearning. During their golden period, between 1957 and 1965, Everly and his younger brother Phil had twenty-eight hit singles in the British Top 30. Songs such as Bye Bye Love (1957), All I Have to Do is Dream (1958), and Crying in the Rain (1961) formed the soundtrack to many a post-hop heartbreak. With the passing of the years, the relatively innocent sounding tone of their records shrouded them in an ennui-laden haze of nostalgia.


In their heyday, the Everlys seemed invincible, belying the seeming fragility of their songs, which sounded like they were about to burst into tears any minute. Following their first hit with Bye Bye Love, they had a stream of chart toppers. Cathy’s Clown (1960) stayed at number one for nine weeks. Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney co-opted the harmonies of the song for their own composition, Please Please Me.


It was groups such as the Beatles whose raw reinvention of rock and roll made the Everlys suddenly sound cutesy and anaemically old hat. The psychedelic revolution too left them out of favour, while the fusion of Country and rock they helped foster left them behind. This was despite embracing its stylings on their 1968 album, Roots. 


Everly was the most mercurial of the siblings, both artistically and in his private life. His own songs included the tellingly named I’m Tired of Singing My Song in Las Vegas (1972), and he once told a CNN interviewer how “I had this haunted feeling all my life, of being odd man out.” As the hits dried up, he dropped acid, and hung out with Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix.


Gradually, however, the Everly Brothers’ unassuming delivery recognised as a major force. After years of estrangement between the brothers, a reunion concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London 1983 helped put them back in the musical pantheon. A new album, EB84 (1984), was the duo’s first in more than a decade. Produced by Dave Edmunds, it featured songs by Jeff Lynne and Nick Lowe, as well as On the Wings of a Nightingale, penned by Paul McCartney, perhaps paying back his and Lennon’s debt to one of their biggest influences.


Isaac Donald Everly, was born in Brownie, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, to Isaac and Margaret Everly. His parents sang together, and his father played guitar. Everly  initially grew up in Iowa, where his father ran a radio show, on which he and Margaret sang. Their sons also appeared as Little Donnie and Baby Boy Phil, while the entire clan sang as The Everly Family.


The Everlys moved again, first to Knoxville Tennessee, where their sons attended West High School, and performed on local radio and TV shows. This caught the attention of Chet Atkins, a family friend, and manager of the RCA Victor Studios. The Everly family moved to Nashville, where Atkins and the studio was, and the boys cut a single, composed by Don, Keep a-Lovin’ Me (1956). Once Phil left school, the brothers began their musical career in earnest, and, after signing to Archie Bleyer’s Cadence label, released Bye Bye Love. The song had been rejected by a host of artists. The Everly Brothers made it their first million seller.


More hits followed, including Wake Up Little Susie (1957), and Bird Dog (1958). They toured with Buddy Holly, who advised them to smarten up their image, and in 1960 signed to Warner Brothers. As the 1960s British beat boom swept the Everlys and others aside, the brothers diversified, with Roots arguably their finest moment of that period. A solo record, Don Everly (1971), met with indifference, and a final appearance as The Everly Brothers saw Don finish the show alone after Phil smashed his guitar and stormed off.


Two more solo albums followed; Sunset Towers (1974), and Brother Jukebox (1977), and Everly had success in the Country charts with his band Dead Cowboys. He also recorded with Emmylou Harris on her 1979 album, Blue Kentucky Girl. After the reunion and EB84, two more Everly Brothers albums followed; Born Yesterday (1986), and Some Hearts (1988). 


The pair worked with Paul Simon on his 1986 album, Graceland, and appeared live with Simon and Garfunkel. Along with his brother, Everly was inaugurated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its inaugural class in 1986, and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. Phil Everly’s death in 2014 cut the final ties of an at times fractious but fruitful musical partnership.


Don Everly last appeared live as a guest of Simon during his 2018 farewell tour in Nashville. The pair sang Bye Bye Love, with Simon providing the harmony originally sung by Phil. Don’s passing leaves behind a bittersweet legacy of some of the most affecting songs of heartbreak ever recorded. 


He is survived by his fourth wife, Adela, and his four children; Venetia, to his first wife, Mary Sue Ingraham, and named after his second wife, Venetia Stevenson, with whom he had two daughters, Stacy and Erin, and a son, Edan. Everly is also survived by his mother.

The Herald, August 26th 2021





Popular posts from this blog

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

Edinburgh Rocks – The Capital's Music Scene in the 1950s and Early 1960s

Edinburgh has always been a vintage city. Yet, for youngsters growing up in the shadow of World War Two as well as a pervading air of tight-lipped Calvinism, they were dreich times indeed. The founding of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1947 and the subsequent Fringe it spawned may have livened up the city for a couple of weeks in August as long as you were fans of theatre, opera and classical music, but the pubs still shut early, and on Sundays weren't open at all. But Edinburgh too has always had a flipside beyond such official channels, and, in a twitch-hipped expression of the sort of cultural duality Robert Louis Stevenson recognised in his novel, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a vibrant dance-hall scene grew up across the city. Audiences flocked to emporiums such as the Cavendish in Tollcross, the Eldorado in Leith, The Plaza in Morningside and, most glamorous of all due to its revolving stage, the Palais in Fountainbridge. Here the likes of Joe Loss and Ted Heath broug