Remembering Phil Everly who died this weekend

If you love pop music, and I do, then you have to appreciate how The Everly Brothers influenced the music that we grew up listening to.

Just listen to John Lennon & Paul McCartney sing "If I fell" or "I'll be back" or a few others.  What you hear is John and Paul singing just like Don & Phil, or the harmonies that they used to hear as aspiring musicians in Liverpool radio.   Like so many of the British groups, they learned to sing listening to those tight harmonies recorded by those two Kentucky brothers dominating the US charts.

As Scott Johnson wrote, another political blogger who loves pop music, Don & Phil Everly brought "....the close harmony singing of traditional country music into the mainstream of American popular music."

Phil Everly died at age 74 and you can hear his legacy every time that you hear a duo on the radio:

"With songs like "Wake Up Little Susie," "Bye Bye Love," "Cathy's Clown," "All I Have to Do Is Dream" and "When Will I Be Loved?," written by Phil Everly, the brothers were consistent hitmakers in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

They won over country, pop and even R&B listeners with a combination of clean-cut vocals and the rockabilly strum and twang of their guitars.  

They were also models for the next generations of rock vocal harmonies for the Beatles, Linda Ronstadt, Simon and Garfunkel and many others who recorded their songs and tried to emulate their precise, ringing vocal alchemy. The Everly Brothers were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in its first year, 1986.  

The Everlys brought tradition, not rebellion, to their rock 'n' roll. Their pop songs reached teenagers with Appalachian harmonies rooted in gospel and bluegrass. Their first full-length album, "The Everly Brothers" in 1958, held their first hits, but the follow-up the same year, "Songs Our Daddy Taught Us," was a quiet collection of traditional and traditional-sounding songs. 

They often sang in close tandem, with Phil Everly on the higher note and the brothers' voices virtually inseparable. That was part of a long lineage of country "brother acts" like the Delmore Brothers, the Monroe Brothers and the Louvin Brothers. In an interview in November, Phil Everly said: "We'd grown up together, so we'd pronounce the words the same, with the same accent. All of that comes into play when you're singing in harmony."  

Paul Simon, whose song "Graceland" includes vocals by Phil and Don Everly, said in an email on Saturday morning: "Phil and Don were the most beautiful sounding duo I ever heard. Both voices pristine and soulful. The Everlys were there at the crossroads of country and R&B.

They witnessed and were part of the birth of rock and roll."

Yes, it's hard to talk about rock history without devoting a good section to Phil & Don Everly.  

RIP Phil Everly.

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