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Phil Everly Dead At 74

Phil Everly
Phil Everly (left) – Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images

Phil Everly, one-half of the enormously successful and influential early rock band the Everly Brothers, died last night in Los Angeles from complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 74.

Paired with his older brother Don, the Everly Brothers had a string of 27 Top 40 hits from 1957-67, three of which — ‘Wake Up Little Susie,’ ‘All I Have to Do Is Dream’ and ‘Cathy’s Clown’ — hit No. 1. In 1986, they were part of the first class inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Born in Chicago on Jan. 19, 1939 and raised in Iowa, Phil was born into a musical family, and, by the age of six, was singing country music with Don and their father on local radio. When Phil was 16, he and Don moved to Nashville to begin their career, and they signed with Cadence in 1957.

The duo took the country/bluegrass style of close harmony singing, as exemplified by the Louvin Brothers and the Delmore Brothers, and adapted to rock n’ roll, with Phil traditionally taking the higher part. In turn, they influenced the Beatles, the Byrds and, most famously, Simon & Garfunkel.

Paul McCartney paid tribute to them with the lyric “Phil and Don” in Wings’ 1976 hit, ‘Let ‘Em In.’ Linda Ronstadt had a massive hit with a cover of ‘When Will I Be Loved,’ which was written by Phil. In the early-‘70s, Warren Zevon served as their keyboardist and musical director. The opening track of his debut album, ‘Frank and Jesse James,’ was in part inspired by them.

They also started a rock tradition, the battling brothers. In 1973, they split up mid-concert. Both subsequently launched solo careers, with Phil placing a few singles in the Country and Adult Contemporary Charts. They reunited in 1983, and continued to intermittently tour together up through 2005.

While Simon & Garfunkel (with whom they toured in 2003 and 2004) are the biggest disciples of the Everly Brothers’ sound, their sound is still being heard today in excellent modern indie folk acts like the Milk Carton Kids. In Nov. 2013, Norah Jones and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong released ‘Foreverly,’ a remake of the Everly Brothers’ 1958 album, ‘Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.’

According to the L.A. Times, who broke the story of Everly’s death, Phil is survived by Don, their mother, his wife, two sons and two granddaughters.

Next: See Other Rockers We've Lost in 2013

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