R.I.P. Don Everly, one half of the pioneering pop duo The Everly Brothers

The frequent Ed Sullivan Show singer and Beatles influencer was 84.

The Everett Collection

Read to Me

Elvis joined the Army, the Everlys enlisted in the Marines. In early 1962, brothers Don and Phil were barely out of boot camp when they made another appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, sporting buzz cuts and Marine Corps uniforms. The siblings sang "Jezebel" and "Crying in the Rain," in one of the rare appearances during their service.

By that time, the brothers had made a sizable impact on the coming wave of rock legends. The Beatles and Beach Boys were just getting started, having grown up on the harmonies and sprightly acoustic shuffle of the Everly Brothers. Born into a musical family — their parented literally had a group called the Everly Family featuring "Little Donnie and Baby Boy Phil" — the Everlys burst out of the Nashville scene with the help of the new medium of television. Just like Elvis, the Everlys had country roots, youthful energy, savvy song selection, and the help of Ed Sullivan.

"Bye Bye Love," their first smash hit in 1957, had famously been rejected by dozens of other acts. The Everlys pounced on the tune, with Don adding a nifty guitar intro. Elvis blocked the Everlys reaching No. 1 on the pop charts (the song peaked at No. 2) but it did top the country charts. 

Their follow-up had no such obstacles. "Wake Up Little Susie" soared to No. 1, in no small part thanks to some confused controversy. The ditty is about two teenagers who fall asleep at the movies, but the pearl-clutchers out there read more salacious meaning in the lyrics. The Everlys' clean-cut look, their sharp Ivy League suits, helped smooth over such bumps. In fact, they gave fashion advice to Buddy Holly and his Crickets, convincing that group to sport suits. It's hard not to see that same sartorial influence carrying through to the Beatles.

The hits kept coming. "All I Have to Do Is Dream" and "Cathy's Clown" both hit No. 1. Ironically — or perhaps this is the way the industry works — the groups that took influence from the Everly Brothers quickly knocked them into relative irrelevance. As the British Invasion took hold, the Everly Brothers struggled in the charts. "If the Everly Brothers can do it, me and Paul can," John Lennon famously said.

The Everly Brothers retreated back to the comforts of country music. While the radio might have largely ignored their efforts, television still welcomed the harmonizing brothers. In 1970, the Everly Brothers landed their own variety show, The Everly Brothers Show, a summer replacement for Johnny Cash. The brothers had shaggy hair by this point, as seen up top.

The following year, the Everlys appeared on Ed Sullivan one final time. The two closed with "Bye Bye Love," the first song they had ever played on the program. 

Fifteen years later, the Everly Brothers were one of the first ten acts inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

On August 21, Don passed away in his Nashville home, according to The Los Angeles Times. The last surviving member of the duo was 84.

 
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saswifteagle 20 days ago
Great article. Semper Fi and RIP
HarcourtFentonMudd 27 days ago
Unfortunately he won't be waking up little Susie any longer.
TenTanToes 1 month ago
The Everlys were from my homestate (Kentucky). Sang duets from Heaven.
Note, prolific actor James Best was their 1st cousin. His mother, and Don and Phil's daddy, Ike, were brother/sister.
After her death, he was adopted by a couple from beautiful Corydon,Indiana.
WordsmithWorks 1 month ago
Didn't realize they had so many hits. I guess sometimes that's how it goes.
JHP 1 month ago
Breaking news - Heaven has almost got a whole band to listen to than the angels
TheDavBow3 1 month ago
Wow! Just seeing this news now on the MeTV site. The Everlys were great. I think there best stuff came after their "hit" years. With the influence of the British Invasion of 1964, their music became more edgy, guitar-driven and with a bigger beat. Still great harmonies and beautiful ballads in there. Not very commercially successful though but great pure music. "Two Yanks In England" album in 1966 was particularly great. Rest In Peace, Don (and Phil)
tootsieg 1 month ago
Very sad. I just saw Charlie Watts passed away as well. Don Everly and Charlie Watts Rest In Peace.
JHP tootsieg 1 month ago
wasnt that big into the stones - but still a loss in ydays music is terrible - was more of a Who fan - still a big loss for all of us old coots and coot-ettes
JHP 1 month ago
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JHP Wilbur88 1 month ago
ok meant the who - he's on 1st
sierra127 1 month ago
What them for weeks at a time in Orange County at knott Berry Farm They are great Performers
cperrynaples 1 month ago
Surprised that the Everlys appeared on Sullivan because he thought Wake Up Little Susie was a dirty song! I can imagine what he thought of All I Have To Do Is Dream...LOL!
justjeff cperrynaples 1 month ago
This was probably because of the lines "It's four o'clock and we're in trouble deep" and "Our goose is cooked, our reputation is shot"...
cperrynaples justjeff 1 month ago
Yep, and we all know what "dream" was refering to...LOL!
Moody 1 month ago
They were a big influence on Simon & Garfunkel also. The Everly Brothers appeared in Simon & Garfunkel reunion concert in the early 2000s. I have the dvd & it is great! RIP Don Everly.
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For the uninitiated, that was a *different* Paul Simon...
stephaniestavr5 1 month ago
This comment has been removed.
I know that. If you read my comment, I mentioned that I am from the state he represented. I was living there the entire time he was in WDC. There were jokes made about him, because he and the singer had the same name.
JeffPaul76 justjeff 1 month ago
Wow!! In that photo he looks a lot like Ozzie Nelson, and a little like George Gobel.
Runeshaper 1 month ago
R.I.P. Don Everly. I still enjoy the Everly Brothers music today! (-:
Barry22 1 month ago
RIP. Always enjoyed their music. Wasn't James Best their cousin?
stephaniestavr5 Barry22 1 month ago
Yes he was. His mother and Don and Phil's father, were sister and brother.
denny 1 month ago
They had some really good songs.
RIP
justjeff denny 1 month ago
Did they ever... "Bird Dog", "Wake Up Little Susie", "Problems", "Poor Jenny", "All I Have to Do is Dream", "Devoted to You", "(Til) I Kissed You", "Let it be Me", "Claudette" [written by Roy Orbison about his first wife], "Ebony Eyes", "Cathy's Clown", "Crying in the Rain", "Bowling Green", "Gone, Gone, Gone", "Walk Right Back", "That's Old Fashioned (That's the Way Love Should Be)", "When Will I be Loved", "So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)"...
Lantern justjeff 1 month ago
Another good one: In the early 80's they released "On the Wings of a Nightingale", which was written by Paul McCartney. I don't think it climbed very high on the charts, however.
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