Don Everly Dies in Nashville at Age 84

Jerry Lee Lewis reflects on friends passing.

Written by Vernell Hackett
Don Everly Dies in Nashville at Age 84
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - OCTOBER 22: Inductee Don Everly speaks during the 2019 Musicians Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Concert at Schermerhorn Symphony Center on October 22, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)

Don Everly, half of the popular Everly Brothers duo,  Passed away yesterday (August 21) in Naahville. He was 84. Don and his brother Phil were country and rock and roll sensations in the 1950’s and 1960’s with hits including “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Bye Bye Love” and “All I Have To Do Is Dream.” Phil passed away in 2014 of COPD at the age of 74. The brothers were known for their close harmonies, causing a deejay to once say of them, “when they harmonize their voices become one.” 

Don and Phil were the sons of Ike and Margaret Everly, who were country singers from Kentucky. After the family moving to Chicago, Don and Phil, 8 and 6 respectively, made their professional debut on local radio station KMA. The family later moved to Nashville and the brother first signed as Writers with Acuff-Rise Publishing. Wesley Rose, head of that company , was instrumental in signing them as a duo with Cadence Records . They then moved to Warner Brothers with their first hit being “Cathy’s Clown,” which was penned by Don. 

In 1973 Phil smashed his guitar onstage during a performance and then left the stage. Don finished the show, telling the audience the duo was over. Both later released solo albums which had minor success. In 1983 the Everly Brothers reunited for a show at Royal Albert Hall in London , England. The brothers received a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1997 and were inducted inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. Don was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2019 for his distinctive riff on “Wake Up Little Susie.”

(Original Caption) Don and Phil Everly. (Photo by Hulton-Deutsch/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images)

Rolling Stone named them the No. 1 duo of all time in 2014 and In his 2010 memoir “Life,” Keith Richards said Don Everly was “one of the finest rhythm players.” The Everly Brothers influenced the Beatles, who referred to themselves as the British Everly Brothers. Their hits including “Crying in the Rain,” “All I Have to Do is Dream” and their biggest-selling hit “Cathy’s Clown,” are road maps for duos seeking stardom in today’s music world. “The Everly Brothers are integral to the fabric of American music. Very few of us can say we were around at the beginning, and even fewer can say we’re still here,” says Jerry Lee Lewis. Lewis, along with Don And Phil, were among the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Lewis remains the only living person of those origins inductees. “With my friend Don’s passing, I am reflective… reflective on a life full of wonderful friends, spectacular music and fond memories. God Bless Don Everly and long live Rock and Roll music.” In a 1986 interview with the Associated Press news agency, Don Everly told the AP that the duo was successful because “we never followed trends”.

“We did what we liked and followed our instincts.” Don said. “Rock ‘n’ roll did survive, and we were right about that. Country did survive, and we were right about that. You can mix the two but people said we couldn’t.”