THE EVERLY BROTHERS: Life story and complete DUO and SOLO recording career

NOTE: This story was written by Peter Aarts from the Netherlands, and was first published by an American magazine called ''DISCOVERIES'' back in April 1992. Later it was used as the main story in a tour programme when Don and Phil did concerts in Holland. The last alteration and up date was done by me in February 1997 :

Isaac Donald Everly was born on February 1, 1937,at home,in a small place called Brownie in Kentucky (USA).The town has long since been levelled and nothing exists except some old smokestacks.Philip Everly was born in Cook County hospital in Chicago (USA) on January 19, 1939.Their parents,Ike Everly and Margaret Embry,had moved from Waterloo, Iowa, to Chicago, to continue their career in music.Ike, an excellent guitar player, and Margaret, who played the bass fiddle,travelled around the mid west of the USA playing mostly fairs and clubs.In 1945 the Everly family settled in Shenandoah, Iowa, where they had found a job on radio station KMA.The money was reasonable, and they agreed that Shenandoah provided the right atmosphere for their boys to grow up in.Don and Phil started singing when they could hardly speak,and their father taught them to harmonize and to play the guitar.By the tender age of 6 and 8 they joined their parents each morning on a radio show at the Earl May Seed company.The boys became known to the audience as ''Little Donnie'' and ''Baby boy Phil''.Don would sing songs like ''Paper Doll'' and Phil would tell jokes,and the family would them up together for songs.Ike would perform his fantastic guitar licks, and Margaret would read the commercials.From the Everly Family show one could order things like home made cookies, but also rat poison.The family was rather happy with the job at KMA, but financially it could have been much better.Margaret, the driving force behind it all,persuaded her husband to do more songs with her..Soon they bought a home recording machine, and the family started making recordings.Then Don and Phil started singing together for KMA.There are tapes around of little Donnie singing ''Santa Claus Is Coming To Town'' and Baby boy Phil singing ''Silent Night''.These programs started each early morning at 5.30 and once the show was over they rushed home for breakfast and then went off to school.Next, Don was given a 15 minute show.On Saturday mornings ''The Little Donnie Show'' attracted lots of faithful listeners.Pictures of Little Donnie could be bought for 25 cents each, and from this money he bought his first bicycle.He shared some of his money with his brother and with some help of Ike and Margaret Phil soon had his first bike too.The Everly Family Show was a big success.Soon they moved to a larger house,and life was good.The Everly family lived in Shenandoah for almost nine years.This gave the boys a chance to grow up in a relatively normal atmosphere (for entertainers).In 1947 the owner of KMA died and his son took over the station.Live entertainment shows on radio was showing its first sign of becoming old fashioned.In 1951 the Everly Family was fired.A smaller Shenandoah based station ,KFNF, offered them a job and between shows both parents worked any extra job they could get.They decided to pack their things and leave for better circumstances.After a failure in Evansville, Indiana,they moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where they worked for a radio station,WROL.They did 13 shows a week for this station.By now the Everly BROTHERS act was the main attraction of the show.The music scene began to change, Bill Haley had a hit with '' Rock Around The Clock '', Elvis was peeping around the corner too, and Pat Boone was rehearsing his soon to be famous crooning.Margaret and Ike noticed the changes too and
they allowed Phil and Don to drift into a more up tempo kind of music.Don loved Bo Diddle, and both brothers adored Hank Williams.The Everly parents decided to end their music careers.Ike became a barber, and Margaret studied to become a beautician.One of Ike's costumers was Chet Atkins.Ike kept telling him about his talented sons.Chet promised Ike he would keep an eye open for Phil and Don, and that's what he did when Phil and Don decided to move to Nashville.Don had written a few songs, and Chet helped him selling his composition ''Thou Shall Not Steal '' to Kitty Wells. Kitty recorded it for Decca and had a top ten hit.Another Don Everly composition ''Here We Are Again ''was recorded by Anita Carter.Meanwhile, they did audition for almost every record company in town, but failed to get a contract.Just when they where about to give up they were finally signed to Columbia records.


On November 9, 1955, the Everly Brothers went into the Old Tulane Hotel studios in Nashville,where four tracks were recorded. ''The Sun Keep Shining '', ''Keep A Lovin Me ''. If her Life Isn't True'',and ''That's The Life I have to Live''. Don wrote ''Keep A Lovin Me'' and both he and Phil wrote the three other songs.The session men for these four tracks were Johnny Sibert on steel guitar,Sammy Pruett and Jimmy Smith on guitar, Junior Huskey on bass and Dale Potter on fiddle. February 6, 1956 saw the release of the first Everly Brothers single, The Sun Keep Shining / Keep A Lovin Me (Columbia 4-21496).The record was released on both 78 and 45 rpm.Because of a complete lack of commercial success,Columbia never even bothered to release the other two songs.

For a few decades everyone was convinced that the original master tapes were destroyed.Then out of nowhere, in 1981,the German record company called ''Bear Family'' released a 12 inch EP on CBS records called ''Nashville Tennessee'' (BFE 15075).On this EP the two missing tracks finally became available to the public. The COLUMBIA disaster must have been a real blow to the Everlys, but looking back on it, it's very easy to see why this record failed.The world was beginning to Rock and Roll.Elvis Presley, Fats Domino,Gene Vincent, and The Platters were on the Usa charts with good rocking records, and there were those Everly Brothers with some funny waltz. They desperately searched for another contact, but Nashville was overcrowded with young, ambitious people looking for exact the same thing.Don and Phil decided to go back home and find work in the construction business,but....some friends persuaded them to stay a little while longer and to give it one more try.


That was when they met Wesley Rose.He was the son of Fred Rose who started a music publication and production business in Nashville back in 1942 (Acuff-Rose).Wesley formed the HICKORY label and was VERY successfully releasing records.Trough Wesley, Phil and Don got in touch with Archie Blyer. Originally from New York, Archie wanted some young Country artists for his label. Eventually he signed Gordon Terry, Anita Carter, and The Everly Brothers to his Cadence label.He was not yet aware of it, but soon the Everly Brothers would be the best selling artists the CADENCE label would ever get.

BYE BYE LOVE was written by the husband and wife song writing team,Boudleaux and Felice Bryant.The song had been turned down by almost every act in Nashville before it was offered to Phil and Don.Hungry and desperate they accepted the song for the $ 64.00 Dollar they were paid to do the session.They played around with the song trying out various rhythms.The was decided to use an intro that Don had written for a song called ''Give Me A Future''.This catchy start really made the difference,and on March 1, 1957 history was made in the RCA studios in Nashville. ''Bye Bye Love'' /'' I wonder If I care as Much'' were recorded with session men Floyd Change on bass, Murray Harman Jr on drums,and Chet Atkins,Ray Edenton,and James Clayton Day on guitars.The record, originally made for the Country and Western market, soon crossed over to the pop market as well.It went right to the top of the charts - WORLD WIDE!!!!!! The Everlys recorded some powerful hits for Cadence records, Wake Up Little Susie - Till I Kissed You - All I Have To Do Is Dream - Bird Dog - Problems- and Let It Be Me, to mention but a few.Boudleaux and Felice were a dream come true for the Everlys as they wrote many of their hit records.In fact, out of the 38 songs that the Everlys released for Cadence records, 11 were written by either Boudleaux Bryant with or without the help of his wife Felice.Both Phil and Don often credit the Bryants for their success.Boudleaux Bryant died in Knoxville, Tennessee in June 1987. Felice still lives in Nashville today.

All of the Cadence recordings were made in the RCA studios in Nashville except for Let It Be Me (The A side of CADENCE 1376).This one was recorded on December 15, 1959 in the Bell studios in New York.After being on the market with his CADENCE label for 11 years, Archie Blyer abandoned the label in November 1964. Archie died on March 21, at age 79 in his home town of Sheboygan, Wisconsin.


When the Everly Brothers found the small CADENCE label was too limited for them, they let the world know that they were ready for a new company and a new contract.All of the major record companies approached them, but it was Warner Brothers who finally won the battle and signed them to a ten year contract.In 1960 this transaction was the most expensive record deal ever made in the history of popular music.Warner guaranteed the Everlys a yearly income of $ 1.000.000.

A perfect start meant a lot for the Everlys and their first Warner Brothers release not only went gold, but CATHY's CLOWN / ALWAYS IT's YOU (WB 5151) became their best selling single to date.More then three million copies were sold.Until 1963 most of their Warner releases sold extremely good.Movie plans were made, but screen test results were rather poor, so they found it better to just stick to the music business, but... both brothers went into the Warner acting academy for classes.

Phil and Don started their own record company called CALLIOPE.

To be honest, CALLIOPE was really mostly Don's side adventure.

He wanted to do something very different, far from the Everly sound.

Using the name Adrian Kimberly he recorded three singles for CALLIOPE.Only the first release ''POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCES'' - ''BLACK MOUNTAIN STOMP''(Calliope 6501) found any success.The others were soon lost in obscurity.Phil too recorded for CALLIOPE. He teamed up with Glen Campbell and Carole King (The KEESTONE FAMILY SINGERS) and recorded ''CORNBREAD AND CHITLINGS'' - ''MELODRAMA''(Calliope 6505).

The Everlys were signed up with the marines and after they returned to the music business they found out things had changed.They still had hit records on the charts as both Warner Brothers and Cadence kept (re) releasing Everly records, but record sales started to slow down and....the Beatles were on their way up.The Everlys recorded more then 350 songs for Warner Brothers although not all of them are released yet.The Warner catalog contains 17 original LP releases, countless re releases and a healthy number of singles and Ep's.Even tough the record sales dropped, the popularity of the duo stayed on a very high level.Concerts everywhere around the world were extremely successful, and

(JUST LIKE TONIGHT) are always sold out events.By the mid sixties the influence of the Everly sound became rather obvious .Groups like The Searchers, The Hollies, Simon and Garfunkel, The Mersey Beats, Peter And Gordon and even the Beatles openly admitted the influence that Don and Phil and their music had on them.Bob Dylan once said: ''We owe these guys EVERYTHING''.The European audiences always kept a soft spot for the Everly Brothers and other artists of the early Rock and Roll era.And in the far east the Everlys still have mega star status.For Warner Brothers the Everlys recorded a few rock albums, two country flavoured albums,a few albums with standards and traditional songs and a Christmas album.they ended their ten year contract with this company with a double live album recorded on February 6, 1970 at the Grand Hotel in Anaheim, California.From July 8, 1979 until September 10, 1970 the Everly Brothers took over for John Cash's weekly TV show.During 10 shows the brothers hosted guests like: Rick Nelson, Melanie, Tony Joe White,Ike and Tina Turner,Stevie Wonder, Linda Ronstadt,Jimmy Rogers,Neil Diamond and many many others.The Everlys did a lot of Beatles songs during these shows and there should have been an album made of all those perfect versions of songs such as Hey Jude, A Hard Days Night and Let It Be.( to mention just a few).Unfortunately nobody ever bothered to release a record of these songs.


RCA records offered them a new contract for two records a year,and a solo LP by each brother.However, the contract only lasted till July 14, 1973. On that dreadful day Don and Phil stopped and did not finished their concert at The John Wayne theatre in Knots Berry Farm in California.Books have been written on speculations of what have might led to this break up.Although I can think of a million reasons,I won't go into that.It must have been a very private and very painful experience for both brothers.They did not see that much of each others for 10 years and both worked on a solo career, and with rather a lot of success.Those 10 years of ''rest''must have been a relief for Both Don and Phil.They had been behind the same mike for so many years already.It must have been GREAT to finally have the opportunity to relax a little and spend at least a few years as a normal human being.Only two studio albums were the result of their few years with RCA. Later RCA released a rather odd compilation album that contained songs from the RCA sessions that were left out, songs Don and Phil recorded for Warner Brothers and a few songs from Phil's first solo LP for RCA.The Everlys ALWAYS surrounded themselves with the best musicians around, and the same goes for record producers.Session men involved on the RCA recordings were: Deleny Bramlett,Jeff Kent,Dennis Linde, Geoff Muldauer,Wayne Perkins,John Sebastian,Waddy Watchel,Danny Weiss,Clarence White,Ry Cooder,Buddy Emmons,Jerry Mc Cee,Barry Beckett,Michael Fonfara,Spooner Oldham,Warren Zevon,Jim Gordon,Johnny Barbata,Russ Kenkel,Jimmy Haskel,Bonnie Bramlett,David Crosby,Graham Nash,Doug Lubahn,Chet Atkins,Paul Yandell,Pete Wade,Weldon Myrick,Harold Rigg,Dale Sellers,Johnny Gimble,Hargard Robbins, and Ralph Gallant (aka Larry London).


During the time that Phil was separated from his brother, he recorded for the following labels:RCA, PYE, ELEKTRA, CURB, EPIC,MAGNUM FORCE and CAPITOL.Besides enjoying his free time, working on his solo career,travelling,writing songs and watch the kids grow up, Phil also did some concerts in the L.A area. The Palomino club in North Hollywood saw a third generation of Everlys on its stage as Phil often took his kids and some of Don's children along to join him on stage.He appeared in many TV programs around the world, and also hosted his own TV program called ''In Session'' in the USA.He travelled to (then) East Berlin to join his friend Dean Reed(who was a major celebrity in Eastern Europe) on his TV show.In London he was guest the guest of honour on a Cliff Richard show at London's Hammersmith Odeon Theatre.While he was in London Stuart Coleman produced a single for Phil. ''Louise'' .This single made the top ten in Holland and England,and for the first time in many years the name E V E R L Y was on the charts again.He and Cliff Richard recorded a few songs together and ''She Means Nothing To Me''reached the top of the charts in many European countries,reaching a solid number 1 position in England in 1983.In the USA his solo records were less popular.Three singles released on the CURB label almost went into obscurity unnoticed.With a lot of his recordings Phil proved he can very well create the Everly sound on his own.He dubbed in additional voice tracks in many of these songs giving the songs the real Everly sound.Phil did a guest appearance in the western movie called ''Every Which Way But Loose'' and together with Sondra Lock he sang the song title.

He joined many fellow artists and sang along on records by people like: John Sebastian, Warren Zevon,Tanya Tucker,Roy Wood,Dion,J.d. Souther,Johnny Rivers,John Steward,Arlo Guthrie, Nancy Griffith, he wrote a song for Dutch singer Rene Shuman called ''On Top Of The World''.Phil sings along with Rene on this one too. You can alo hear Phil join his oldest son Jason on his first CD ''No Ordinary Music''. He and Jason sing together on a few tracks on the CD. Phil and Don teamed up to sing on the CD that Don's son Edan made also, and this is a very nice track too..


Donalds first solo LO called '' don EVERLY '' was released on December 12, 1970.Like his brother, his first solo LP was released before the duo decided to break up.During the years he was separated from Phil,three Don Everly LP's were released.Each is completely different in style and approach.The first Lp has a very strong folk influence,the second is pure Rock and Roll while the third is Country and Western.Don wrote a lot of songs for other people and produced their records.He (just like Phil) often appeared on other peoples records.You can hear him singing along with people like :Bob Neuwirth,Don Gibson and Sue Thompson, Guy Clark,Bryon Hayworth,Emmy Lou Harris, Albert Lee and even with the French Rock king Johnny Hallyday.He became close friends with Albert Lee (a first generation Everly fan).Albert was in a group called ''Hands, Heads and Feet '' and with this group Don made his second LP. Albert Lee and Don Everly toured the world when they were asked to join the '' International Country Festival ''.While doing some of the old Everly hits,Albert took care of Phil's harmony part, but (SORRY ALBERT) never reached that standard.By now Albert Lee is a member of the Everly Brothers band and has been in this position for many many years. ''Brother Jukebox'', Don's third album was the best selling one of the three.It was re re leased four times and finally made it on CD.Don had his own band called ''The Dead Cowboys'' and toured trough Europe with this group. Only one single of this formation found its way to the public, while enough songs were recorded in Nashville to
release two albums of this group.Don also toured the South of France with Wanda Jackson. Being a founder of '' Les Amis Du Vine '' he must have loved the good wine that France is so famous for.


Little by little the news became known to the world.The Everlys are going to re unite.A shock went trough all those millions of fans around the world.The first choice for the Reunion Concert was the Carnegie Hall in New York city, but Phil and Don changed their minds and settled for the Royal Albert Hall in London, England. Both of them had very found memories of this venue as in the very early seventies they toured the world with Ike and Margaret and Ike's performance was received so extremely well while playing the Albert Hall.

All of those who were fortunate enough to get tickets sure had the time of their lives. All of YOU who are going to see tonight's Everly Brothers concert wished you had been there too.And all of you who have seen the HBO video that was made of this event know how perfectly well the reunion concert was. Finally Don and Phil Everly were back where the public wanted them.On a stage, and.......together.The REUNION CONCERT double album earned them another gold record and brought them a new contract.


The Everly Brothers made three albums for Mercury/Polygram.Their first '' EB '84 ''was released in September 1984.It had been a long time since they had worked in the studio together.In 1985 ''Born Yesterday'' was released and in 1989 their last LP for Mercury called ''Some Hearts'' was released. ''EB '84''went gold in various countries around the world.Besides some songs written by Don everly, this album was a compilation album of songs by the GREAT artists of that time.Bob Dylan was only one of the big names that contributed a song for this first studio album by the Everlys since such a long time.The highlight of the album sure is Paul Mc Cartney's ''On The Wings Of A Nightingale'' that he especially wrote for Don and Phil. Video clips of the album were shown on various channels around the world, and the single of ''Nightingale'' topped the charts of many countries. ''EB '84 '' was produced by long time friend and Everly fan Dave Edmunds, and he also produced the second LP for Mercury called ''Born Yesterday''.

This is a beautiful album with perfect Everly style ballads such as ''The Arms Of Mary'', ''Don't Say Goodnight'' and the Mark Knopfler song ''Why Worry''.But there are also fine rockers, the best of which is ''Always Drive A Cadillac'' and ''Amanda Ruth''. Videos for this album were made too and were shown around the world on stations like MTV and SKY.

The Everlys decided to produce their last LP for Mercury themselves.Some Everly devotees found the album too electronic and overdone.At any rate, it did have the wonderful ballad '' Brown Eyes '' written by Phil on it.The Beach Boys joined the Everlys on this album on the song ''Don't Worry Baby'' which was also the title song for the film ''Tequila Sunrise''. Overall, this LP was rather poor promoted and did not sell all that good.The Everly Brothers ended their contract with Polygram in 1990. Right now the Everlys do take it kind of easy when it comes to recording new material, but I am convinced that the BEST ever Everly compact disc has NOT yet been released. We will hear a lot more about them in the near future.



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