81 Years Ago: Don Everly Is Born in Kentucky
Happy 81st birthday to Don Everly! The singer was born on Feb. 1, 1937, in the small town of Brownie, Ky.
Everly was born to musical parents, Isaac and Margaret. Together with his younger brother Phil, the family formed the Everly Family band and traveled all over the South and Midwest; they also hosted their own show on a local radio station. After both brothers finished high school, they officially became a duo and caught the attention of Chet Atkins, who helped secure their first record deal, on Columbia Records. However, after the release of one single, "Keep a' Lovin' Me," which failed to chart, they were released from their deal.
Undeterred, the Everly Brothers moved to the Cadence record label, also signing to the Acuff-Rose publishing company. Their first single, "Bye Bye Love," became a No. 1 hit at country radio and a No. 2 hit on the pop charts, thus beginning a successful, and lengthy, recording career. Together, the Everly Brothers released more than 50 albums, with over 20 singles reaching the Top 40 in either country or pop, or both, and they earned multiple No. 1 hits, including "Wake Up, Little Susie" and "All I Have to Do Is Dream."
But as the Everly Brothers' success began to wane in the late '60s, so did their ability to work together. Don Everly released a self-titled solo album in 1971, which was not a commercial success, and in 1973, the brothers officially parted ways following a performance at Knott's Berry Farm in California, when Phil Everly smashed his guitar and walked off stage.
After their split, the Everlys both embarked on solo careers, with Don Everly releasing two more records, Sunset Towers and Brother Jukebox. Although he released seven singles, none of them cracked the Top 40.
The Everly Brothers reunited in 1983, performing together at Royal Albert Hall in London, England, which resulted in a live LP and video. For the next three decades, the Everly Brothers had times together and apart, appearing together on Paul Simon‘s Graceland album and touring together with Simon & Garfunkel in 2003 and 2004.
Phil Everly died on Jan. 3, 2014, from complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
“We had a very difficult life together, we did,” Don Everly admits. “I’m not over it. I really feel sad. I think about him every day. I always thought about him every day, even when we were not speaking to each other. It still just shocks me that he’s gone.”
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