Monday, 12 September 2011

I can make you mine, taste your lips of wine, any time night or day. Only trouble is, gee whiz, I’m dreamin’ my life away.

Sappy Song Department

“All I Have to Do is Dream” by The Everly Brothers (1958)

There is always a lot of discussion of the R&B contribution to music, but the Everlys brought their contribution from another angle – they may really have been the most successful country or maybe even hillbilly band to make their mark on rock. Like Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and not to forget Elvis, they had a country music that morphed into rockabilly and then quickly leapt into rock and Roll.  The difference was that they were an inseparable duo from childhood – and made a contribution only a duo could make.

These boys understood entertainment – they were standing in front of the mic as kids on their musical parent’s Kentucky radio show. Both guitar players, Don would sing the lower harmony and Phil the higher on pretty much all their songs.  They were steeped in country; the use of steel guitar and close harmonies was an Everly trademark. The Everly Brothers had a string of hits in the late 1950’s and early 60’s.  Don is a great guitar player, he taught Keith Richards a thing or two actually - the Stones have a deep love of country music and tip their hats to the Everlys.

The influences they had was listening to the close harmonies of the Louvin Brothers, and old time performers the Delmore Brothers and McGee Brothers. The Everlys of course would influence Mr. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and even the famous duo of Simon and Garfunkel. They also influenced the Righteous Brothers who would introduce “blue-eyed soul” and would in turn fuel the Hall & Oats sound.

Being a musical family, family friend Chet Atkins was instrumental in getting the young Everlys signed to Capital Records in 1956 – there first recording “Keep A’ Lovin'’ You” was a flop. Atkins would persist and he introduced them to Wesley Rose of Acuff-Rose. He liked their song-writing and said he would get them signed on Cadence records where they met Archie Bleyer who had his little song “Bye Bye Love” turned down by some 30 artists including Elvis. The Everlys had the magic touch and “Bye Bye Love” became the number 2 song behind Elvis’ “Teddy Bear” in 1957.  

The song writing team of Felicia and Boudreaux Bryant had the pulse on the teen sentiment and the with the Everlys threw “Wake Up Little Suzie”, “All I Have To Do is Dream”, “Birddog”, “Devoted to You” and “Problems” to the top of the charts. They also did well with Phil’s “When Will I Be Loved” later made popular again by Linda Ronstadt, and Don’s “(Till) I Kissed You” which went to number four on the charts. Other great songs they did were “Cathy’s Clown”, “Walk Right Back” and “Crying in the Rain”.

The Everlys tour extensively with Buddy Holly and the Crickets in the late 50’s - some say, changing the style of the Crickets sound. Holly was generous with his song writing and gave them “Wishing”. Phil was a pallbearer at Holly’s funeral, Don too devastated to even make and appearance.

The early sixties saw them tour the U.K. and record mostly covers. They had a stint in the Marines. Their struggle with drugs and the crashing impact of the British Invasion in the U.S. saw the end to the astounding success that was the Everly Brothers. Their influence still runs deep.   

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