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Phil Everly, one-half of the most influential music duo of all time, has died at age 74. Along with his brother Don, Everly produced some of the greatest harmonies ever recorded and influenced generations of rock musicians.
Everly died due to complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on Friday at a hospital in Burbank, The Los Angeles Times reports.
“We are absolutely heartbroken,” his wife, Patti Everly, told the LA Times. “He fought long and hard.” She added that the disease was caused by years of smoking.
The Everly Brothers were the best selling music duo of the 1950s and early 1960s, producing hit after hit. Their songs include “Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “All I Have To Do Is Dream” and “Cathy’s Clown.” All these songs became standards for rock musicians and continue to be covered. Their harmonies influenced Simon & Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Mamas & The Papas and many more.
They were in the first class of 10 musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Rolling Stone notes that they were the sons of a Kentucky coalminer and the family moved to Iowa. The brothers started performing at a young age and in Iowa, the family actually had a radio show. As teens, they moved to Nashville and caught the attention of Columbia Records. But they actually cut their first single - “Bye Bye Love” - for another label and their career really got started.
By the late 1960s, their sales began to decline and they broke up on stage in 1973. Although they did try solo careers, they reunited in the 1980s for tours and a few albums.
“What beautiful music Phil and Don Everly gave us,” Chris Hillman, one of the founding members of the Byrds, told the LA Times. “I owe them so much, and they truly inspired Gram Parsons and myself in our early adventures together.”
The Everly Brothers’ last major performances came in the last decade, when Simon & Garfunkel invited them to perform before their Old Friends shows. They were such a major part of Simon & Garfunkel’s sound that a cover of “Bye Bye Love” was included on their Bridge Over Troubled Water album.
Everly is survived by his brother Don, his wife, mother and two sons.
image: Wikimedia Commons