The pioneering vocal duo, the Everly Brothers, has lost one of it's leading lights. Phil Everly passed away yesterday, January 3, in Burbank after battling lung disease. The 74-year old singer, musician and composer was a heavy smoker.
"We are absolutely heartbroken. He fought long and hard," his wife, Patty, told the Los Angeles Times.
The brothers grew up in a musical household. Their father, Ike, was a coal minor, who would play music on the weekends with his two brothers, Chuck and Dan.
Issac Donald Everly was born in 1937 in Brownie, Tennessee. Before Don turned two, the family moved to Chicago so that Ike could pursue full-time work as a musician. Younger son, Phillip, was born in 1939.
Ike instilled his love of music into his boys and taught them to play guitar. The youngsters started performing on their parents' radio show where they sang in four-part harmony.
The Everly Brothers burst on the music scene in 1957 with their hit single, "Bye Bye Love." It became their first million seller. The brothers' marvelous harmonies inspired the likes of The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkle, The Hollies, The Beach Boys, The Byrds and countless other rock and roll and country music legends.
They followed up that success with, "Wake Up Little Susie," which hit number one in 1957. The brothers' music was up beat and their harmonies were revolutionary in the field of rock music. Their harmonies were irresistible with Don's lower voice usually singing the melody line while Phil added his higher voice for a perfect harmony.
The Everly Brothers toured extensively and over the years, the stress of constant recording and touring took it's toll. In 1973, they broke up during a performance. Ten years later, they reunited.
Phil once commented, "Don and I are infamous for our split, but we're closer than most brothers. Harmony singing requires that you enlarge yourself; not use any kind of suppression. Harmony is the ultimate love."
"They had that sibling sound," said Linda Ronstadt, who re-recorded Phil's song, "When Will I Be Loved."
Ronstadt went on to elaborate, "The information of your DNA is carried in your voice, and you can get a sound that you never get with someone who's not blood related to you. And, they were both such good singers. They were one of the foundations of the new rock 'n roll sound."
The Everlys were among the first ten performers inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" back in 1986. The duo was also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
In addition to his wife, Patty, Phil is survived by his brother, Don, his mother, two sons, Jason and Chris and two granddaughters.