Phil Everly (born Philip Everly January 19, 1939 in Chicago, Illinois) are country-influenced rock and roll performers who had their greatest success in the 1950s.
The sons of two Kentucky country musicians, The Everly Brothers grew up performing with their parents on live radio and in small-market live shows. They recorded their own first single, "Keep A' Lovin' Me, " in 1956, under the aegis of Chet Atkins, but it flopped. However their next single, "Bye Bye Love," (which had been rejected by 30 other acts, including Elvis Presley) became an across-the-board smash, reaching #2 on the pop charts, and #1 on both the Country, and the R & B charts. The song, written by the songwriting husband and wife team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant , became their first million-seller.
In addition to both being competent guitarists, they used a style of close-harmony singing, in which each brother sang a tune that could often stand on its own as a plausible melody line. This was in contrast to 'classic' harmony lines which, while working well alongside the melody, would sound strange if heard by themselves. One of the best examples of their close-harmony work is their recording of "Devoted To You."
They soon became known as the stalwarts of Archie Bleyer's Cadence Records label. They had a hit with the single "Claudette," written by Roy Orbison (Claudette was the name of Roy's wife. Later she died in a motorcycle accident.) Working with the Bryants, the harmonic duo had a number of hits in the USA and the UK, the biggest of which were "Wake Up Little Susie," "(All I Have to Do Is) Dream," and "Bird Dog."
In 1960, when they signed with Warner Brothers Records, they continued to have hits, starting big with 1960's "Cathy's Clown" which was released as number WB1, the first release in the UK by that company. Other singles followed, such as "Crying In The Rain" (1963) and "The Ferris Wheel" (from 1964), but the years after 1962 saw the Everly Brothers become less commercially viable than before--even as they became artistically more accomplished. Their enlistment in the United States Marine Corps in 1963, to meet military obligations, took them somewhat out of the spotlight immediately before The Beatles (whose close harmonies were a homage to the Everlys) broke loose in the US and changed the pop-music landscape.
Following the British Invasion, Everly Brothers recordings like "Gone, Gone, Gone" (1964) and "The Price Of Love," "I'll See Your Light" and "It Only Costs a Dime" (all 1965) began to reflect many of the changes in popular music they had, with their earlier work, put into motion. They recorded, with members of the Hollies contributing songs such as "So Lonely" and "Don't Run and Hide," a classic album entitled Two Yanks in England (1966), at the time somewhat under-appreciated (and currently unavailable on CD) but now considered one of their best efforts.
In 1967, "It's All Over," hearkening back to their late-1950's sound, didn't do as well as the more modern hit "Bowling Green." In 1968 they recorded another album now regarded as a classic, Roots, which featured their own compositions alongside songs by Randy Newman and others. In short, their mid- and late-'60s material is considered by many critics and listeners to compare favorably to that done by the Beatles and the Byrds.
With soft, mainly acoustic guitar backing, sweet close-harmony vocals, non-threatening lyrics, and clean-cut white faces, the Everly Brothers were, in their heyday, never perceived as a threat to society, as were performers such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard; they are one of rock and roll music's most important acts because their music, while arguably containing just as much subversion and sexual tension as that of many another artists, helped bridge the gap between rock and country music in a way that appealed to fans of both genres. In addition, their approach to harmony singing influenced nearly every rock and roll group of the 1960s.
The duo broke up in 1973, but reformed in 1983 with a new album produced by Dave Edmunds. "On The Wings Of A Nightingale", written by Paul McCartney for the brothers, became a hit single in both the US and UK, and their 1983 Reunion Concert at Royal Albert Hall in London resulted in both a well-received CD and video. They then earned a final charting country-music hit with "Born Yesterday."
The Everly Brothers have had a total of 26 Billboard Top 40 singles. In 1986 they were among the first 10 artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and they were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. Their pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. The Everly Brothers have a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7000 Hollywood Blvd. They still perform occasionally, despite having declared their retirement from both touring and the studio more than once. Most notably, they joined Simon & Garfunkel as the featured act in the S&G reunion tour of 2003. As a special tribute to the Everlys, they were not the opening act, rather Simon & Garfunkel opened their own show and had the Everlys come out in the middle of the show for four songs.
United States President George W. Bush has stated that "Wake Up Little Susie" is his favorite song.