Don Everly Dies: Groundbreaking Singer Of The Everly Brothers Was 84

Don Everly, who along with his brother, Phil was part of the Everly Brothers, a huge chart success in the late 1950s and early 1960s that grew into Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, died on Saturday at his home in Nashville. He was 84.

A family spokesman confirmed the death to The Los Angeles Times. No cause was given.

The duo were one of the first pop-rock acts to emerge from Nashville, and became instant hitmakers on the strength of the soaring harmonies in such songs as “Wake Up Little Susie” and “Cathy’s Clown.” They became a major influence on everything to follow, from the British Invasion through the Southern California county-rock scene.

Their harmonies on such hits as “Bye Bye Love” and “All I Have To Do Is Dream” are timeless and unforgettable. Don Everly usually sang lead, with his brother handling the higher harmony.

“It’s almost like we could read each other’s minds when we sang,” Don Everly told The Los Angeles Times shortly after his brother’s death.

But the inevitable career lag followed, as styles changed, and eventually the duo split, ending when Phil smashed his guitar and left the stage during a performance at Knotts Berry Farm in Southern California.

That left Don to finish the set and announce the duo’s end.

Don Everly was born Issac Donald Everly in 1937 in Brownie, Ky, almost two years before his brother. Their parents were performers, doing country music on tours throughout the south. When the boys were old enough, they joined the family group in performance.

The Everly brothers were eventually hired as songwriters by the Acuff-Rose publishing company. Wesley Rose of the firm led them to a recording contract with Cadence Records, an independent label in New York.

The brothers had an obvious knack for songwriting. Don came up with “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” a Top 20 country hit for Kitty Wells in 1954, and also had songs recorded by Anita Carter and Justin Tubb.

He also wrote the Everly Brothers hits “(’Til) I Kissed You,” which reached the pop Top 10 in 1959, and “So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad),” which did the same the next year. “Cathy’s Clown,” which he wrote with Phil, spent five weeks at the top of the pop chart in 1960.

In 1983, the Everly Brothers reunited for a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London, a show that was filmed for a documentary. They also recorded the album EB84, produced by Dave Edmunds. That project included the “On the Wings of a Nightingale,” written by Paul McCartney.

The duo released two more studio albums before the end of the decade and were inducted as members of the inaugural class of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. They also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 1997, and became members of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.

Phil Everly died on Jan. 3, 2014.

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