Tap to Read ➤

Everly Brothers Biography

The Everly Brothers, famous American stars, made an incredible contribution to the music industry. They are often credited for moving country songs onto the pop chart listings.
Prabhakar Pillai Jan 23, 2019
The Everly Brothers (Don and Phil) were introduced to music by their parents, who were established singers. Hence, by the time they approached their teens, they became top-notch professionals in the music arena. The duos were not only good at singing heartrending melodies but were also considered as excellent songwriters.
The popular music genres that these brothers played were country, rock and roll and blues with a country beat. They brought the sound of Appalachian harmonies into rock and roll.

Personal Details

Name: Isaac Donald Everly
Nickname: Don Everly
Country: USA
Born: February 1, 1937
Place of Birth: Kentucky

Name: Phillip Everly
Nickname: Phil Everly
Country: USA
Born: January 19, 1939
Place of Birth: Chicago, Illinois
Death: January 3, 2014

Genres: Country, rock and roll and rockabilly
  •  In 1986, the Everly Brothers were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • In 1997, they were presented the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • In 2001, they were added into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
  • The Rolling Stone magaine ranked them #33 in the  "100 greatest atrists of all time", in 2004


  • Their parents Ike Everly and Margaret were famous country and folk music performers, in the South and the Midwest, who hosted their own radio show.
  • The brothers sang with their family on radio broadcasts in Iowa. The structure of their music, with respect to the composition and progression of chords, was fabulous.
  • Don formed a band called Dead Cowboys in Nashville.
  • His own song, Cathy's Clown was a successful hit worldwide.
  • Phil owned a guitar accessories company known as Everly Music Company.
  • The Gibson Guitar Corporation got together with the brothers to produce a custom-made acoustic guitar called the Gibson Everly Brothers Flattop.

The Early Years

The Everly Brothers started their music career at a very young age, singing with their parents for a radio show, in the year 1945. Their accomplished guitarist father, Ike Everly, taught them everything about music.
By 1945, the family moved to Shenandoah, where their father would appear three times a day on a local radio station. His wife and sons eventually joined him. The Everly Family Show became the most popular radio show in the region by 1950.
They then moved to Evansville, Indiana. As the demand for live radio performers reduced, they took to the road, traveling from town to town singing at political meetings, county fairs, and revivals. They finally settled in Knoxville, Tennessee, where they appeared on radio from 1953 to 1955.

Their Musical Journey

Chet Atkins, an acquaintance of their father, got the brothers a six-month contract with Columbia Records. The brothers had only one recording session with Columbia records in the year 1956. Four songs were recorded, but only 'Keep A' Lovin' Me' and 'The Sun Keeps Shining' were released. However, they flopped.
Atkins kept motivating them to carry on their work. He recommended their work to different music directors and introduced them to Wesley Rose, who was very impressed by their songwriting and singing talents. He later on introduced them to Archie Bleyer, who was looking for country talents and hired Don and Phil for Cadence Records label in the year 1957.
The first song that they recorded for Cadence was 'Bye Bye Love'. The lyrics for this popular number were written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, a middle-aged husband and wife. The song 'Bye Bye Love' had previously been rejected by 30 other music groups, but it went on to become the Everly Brothers' first million seller.
Working with the Bryant couple, the brothers had several hits in the United States and the United Kingdom, with three of them reaching the 'number one' spot on the pop charts - 'Bird Dog', 'All I Have to Do Is Dream', and 'Wake Up Little Susie'.
Seeing their innate singing talent, Warner Bros. Records signed them up in 1960 for a million dollar, 10 year contract. Briefly after, the brothers fought with the Acuff-Rose Music publishing company manager, Wesley Rose. This dispute lasted for four years, they separated from Acuff-Rose songwriters and took this opportunity and started writing songs.
At first, everything seemed fine. Their first single with Warner Brothers -- 'Cathy's Clown' -- sold eight million copies and was their biggest selling record. Phil's 'Ebony Eyes', 'Walk Right Back' and 'When Will I Be Loved' also did well. 'That's Old Fashioned' in 1962 was their last Top Ten hit.
In 1962, a Golden Hits album was released which included only their hits with Warner Brothers. From 1963-1970, only 3 songs made it to the top 100 list. In 1964, they released 'Gone, Gone, Gone', a single which made it to the Top 40. In 1965, their release -- 'The Price of Love' -- reached number two in the U.K. In 1968, they released the album 'Roots'.

Musical Hits

Here are a list of top-selling songs that gave the brothers their due recognition.
  • Bye Bye Love - (1957)
  • Wake Up, Little Susie - (1957)
  • Bird Dog - (1958)
  • All I Have To Do Is Dream - (1958)
  • Devoted to You - (1958)
  • ('Til) I Kissed You - (1959)
  • Cathy's Clown - (1960)
  • So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad) - (1960)
  • When Will I Be Loved - (1960)
  • Walk Right Back - (1961)
  • Temptation - (1961)
  • That's Old Fashioned - (1962)
  • Crying in the Rain - (1962)
  • The Price of Love - (1965)
  • Love Is Strange - (1965)

The Split

Their long list of successful hits was followed by a slump in their career. Don was addicted to Ritalin, a version of methamphetamine, and had attempted suicide. Don's addiction lasted for 3 years; he was hospitalized for nervous breakdown, and underwent electroshock therapy. In the year 1970, Don released his first solo album which didn't do well.
The brothers then signed a recording contract with RCA Records in the year 1971. On July 14, 1973, midway through their concert in Knott's Berry Farms in Los Angeles, their manager came on stage and stopped the show. He said that he was unhappy with Don's careless and treacherous performances. Phil violently smashed his guitar and raged out.
This led to their split in the year 1973. Many referred to their fight, as that of Cain and Abel. Subsequently, both their personal and professional lives went haywire. As solo singers, they found no real success.

The Reunification

After a decade, in the year 1983, the brothers made peace and were reunited by an English guitarist, Albert Lee, at the Royal Albert Hall in England. Together, they regained their popularity and sold several great hits. The brothers toured a lot, and also collaborated with other famous artists.
"On the Wings of a Nightingale", "Born Yesterday", and "Cold" were their successful hits together. Phil used to say, "There's never been logic to music being forgotten, for if a song is good, it should be good all the time. You never throw away a book that's good. And music should be treated as well."
Their fabulous style and popularity distinguished them from the others, and identified them as international superstars. With this recognition, they were able to create a separate identity for themselves in the rock 'n' roll scene.