Brothers - it's tough to get them to play together. Tom Fogerty eventually chafed under his kid brother John's direction and left Creedence Clearwater Revival. After working with older brother Mark in Dire Straits, Dave Knopfler packed it in and went solo. Then there was Liam and Noel Gallagher who took sibling rivalry to new heights or depths depending on your point of view. It was no different for one of Rock n' Roll's earliest brother acts.
Kentucky born Everly Brothers, Phil and Don (the eldest), began performing together on their parents' radio program. Starting as Country/Western singers they moved to Rock n' Roll. Recording in '56, they didn't connect until the following year. While capable of lush ballads like "All I Have To Do Is Dream" and "Let It Be Me" they could Rock. "Bye Bye Love," and the once scandalous, "Wake Up Little Suzie" are the best examples. The latter was a song about getting a date home late, very late. Like the next day. The reason: they fell asleep. To believe the song's premise, either the Everly's were very boring dates or they were pulling a fast one. Mid-tempo songs like "Bird Dog" and "Cathy's Clown" kept them on the charts.
In late '61 the Everly Brothers were inducted into the Marines. Even though they appeared on TV (in their uniforms) and released records, the momentum drained from their career. Once out of the service they continued performing but their records stiffed. Phil and Don toured the UK but Don collapsed and returned stateside. Phil continued the tour with their band's guitarist Joey Page handling Don's part. They managed to weather the British invasion and later in the decade the Everly's appeared on TV (the draw being their earlier hits). That exposure landed them a summer replacement show in '70. While things looked like they were picking up, it was only temporary. At a '73 show at Knott's Berry Farm, Phil, disgusted with Don's performance, smashed his guitar and stormed off the stage. Don continued, telling the shocked audience "the Everly Brothers died ten years ago." And it would be another ten years before they would perform together again. When their estrangement ended in '84 they found they had a lot of friends who were eager to see them get back together. They recorded "The Everly Brothers." Produced by Rock maven Dave Edmunds, it contained the song "On The Wings of a Nightingale," written by Paul McCartney.
One last piece of trivia. Don's daughter Erin was married to Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose. Had to be every father's dream. Of course, it didn't last.
Vocalists supreme, "Cadence Classics: Their 20 Greatest Hits," clearly illustrates the Everly Brothers' importance. Brilliant Rock 'n' Roll songs ("Wake Up Little Susie," "Bye Bye Love" and "Cathy's Clown") and numerous hit ballads. So this is the best way to get what you need. For the major fan there's the box set (4 discs) "Heartaches and Harmonies."
Since their work on the Cadence label was their best "The Everly Brothers" and "The Fabulous Style of the Everly Brothers" are recommended.
In the '60s while on Warner Brothers Records they re-recorded their classic songs. These versions are pale imitations. But also on Warner, the Everly Brothers started to move toward Country-Rock. "Walking Right Back: The Everly Brothers 1960-1969" provides 50 tracks chronicling that period. Curb Records also unleashed some discount compilations. Don't bother.
In '84 they took Paul McCartney's "On The Wings of a Nightingale" (with Dave Edmunds producing) and made a slight dent on the charts. The song is on the OK "EB 84."