Don and Phil Everly recently joined Simon and Garfunkel's reunion tour, playing a handful of their best known hits in between the headliners. The years and audiences have been kind to the world's most famous rock and roll duo, enhanced by the 1994 release of Rhino Records' 4 CD, 103 song box set Heartaches & Harmonies (which included 40 tracks never before released on CD, and 12 songs new to stereo) and the 1997 Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy.
The Everlys had already experienced a full career before their first record "Bye Bye Love" was released. As sons of popular country artists Ike and Margaret, they were pushed into the limelight from an early age. They regularly appeared on their parents' radio shows throughout the 40s and accompanied them on many tours. In the mid-50s, as rockabilly was evolving into rock 'n' roll, the boys moved to Nashville, the mecca for such music. Don had a minor hit when Kitty Wells recorded his composition "Thou Shalt Not Steal" in 1954. In 1957 they were given a Felice and Boudleaux Bryant song that was finding difficulty being placed. They took "Bye Bye Love' and made it their own; it narrowly missed the top of the U.S. charts and reached #6 in the UK.
The brothers then embarked on a career that made them second only to Elvis Presley in the rock 'n' roll popularity stakes. They quickly followed this initial success with more irresistible Bryant songs, "Wake Up ,Little Susie", "All I Have To Do Is Dream", "Bird Dog," "Problems," "So Sad" and "Devoted To You". By the end of the 50s they were the world's top vocal group. They gained further momentum after signing with the newly-formed Warner Brothers Records for $1 million; "Cathy's Clown," written by Don, featured an the echo-laden production and treble-loaded harmonies. The song was #1 in the U.S. for five weeks. The echo and treble dominated in two more classics, "Walk Right Back," and a fast-paced reworking of the former Bing Crosby hit "Temptation."
The advent of the beat boom pushed the brothers out of the spotlight and while they continued to make hit records, none approached their previous achievements. The decline was briefly halted in 1965 with two major UK hits, "The Price Of Love" and "Love Is Strange."
After a few years of declining fortunes and arrival at the supper-club circuit, the brothers parted acrimoniously. Both embarked on solo careers with varying degrees of accomplishment. Their country-flavored albums found more favor with the Nashville audience of their roots. Don and his band, the Dead Cowboys, regularly played in Nashville, while Phil released the critically acclaimed Star Spangled Springer. Don maintained a steady career, playing with ex-Heads, Hands And Feet maestro Albert Lee as Phil concentrated on writing songs. "She Means Nothing To Me," a duet with Cliff Richard, put the Everly name back in the UK Top 10.
In June 1983, their emotional reconciliation was made before an ecstatic, wet-eyed audience at London's Royal Albert Hall. The following year EB84 was released and gave them another major hit with Paul McCartney's "Wings Of A Nightingale." In 1986 they were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and the following year Phil gave Don a pound of gold and a handmade guitar for his 50th birthday. A major reissue program, with alternative takes, was undertaken by Warners in 2001. That same year, they were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.