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Fabulous Flip Sides In Memoriam Don Everly

Remembering the last surviving Everly Brother
November 2005, UK’s Hammersmith Apollo, photo by C. Brandon, Redferns/Getty Images

November 2005, UK’s Hammersmith Apollo, photo by C. Brandon, Redferns/Getty Images

On August 21, Don Everly passed away at age 84, seven years after the passing of his younger brother Phil. Bob Cowsill told Goldmine, "The Everly Brothers were one of the earliest influences on The Cowsills, especially regarding their vocals. Their harmonizing, and the sibling component in the vocal stack, made not only The Everly Brothers but all the family singers special in a unique DNA kind of way. Don and Phil paved the way for many of us and will always be remembered and revered."

The Kentucky duo had eight singles in the Top 40 in the late 1950s on the Cadence label. Half of the flip sides made the Top 40 as well. Their first No. 1 hit was “Wake Up Little Susie,” and their biggest No. 1 record was “All I Have to Do is Dream,” both written by the couple Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. At the former Georgia Music Hall of Fame location, a display on the Bryants detailed how they would write lead parts for both Phil and Don Everly, stating that the recordings were really twin lead vocals rather than either of the brothers being relegated to a harmony part, and, to minimize conflict, they wouldn’t tell either brother which part they considered to be the “real lead” on any of the songs. The Bryants wrote both sides of the duo’s third and final No. 1 single on the Cadence label, the fun “Bird Dog,” and the beautiful “Devoted to You,” which Carly Simon and James Taylor brought back to the Top 40 in 1978. Although “Devoted to You” was intended to be the A side, “Bird Dog” charted one week prior and attained the higher chart position, making “Devoted to You” considered to be the flip side of the bigger hit.

Everly flip

The Everly Brothers

Flip side: Devoted to You – peak position No. 10

A side: Bird Dog – peak position No. 1

Top 100 debut: August 4, 1958

Cadence 1350

As the 1960s began, Warner Bros., known for films and animation, started a record label, and offered the Everly Brothers a ten year million dollar contract. This was huge at the time, when some were claiming that rock and roll was dead, making it very much attractive, plus the brothers wanted to branch out into films and Warner Bros. could possibly make that happen. Their first single for Warner Bros., a song the brothers wrote themselves called “Cathy’s Clown,” tied their Cadence record of No. 1 for five weeks and seventeen weeks on the charts. More Top 10 success happened for them that year and the following year. Carole King with lyricist Howard Greenfield, who had written many hits with her friend Neil Sedaka, supplied “Crying in the Rain.” This became The Everly Brothers’ second highest charting hit on Warner Bros. in 1962. In this early 1960s era the duo’s Top 10 hits also included “When Will I Be Loved” and “Walk Right Back,” successfully covered by Linda Ronstadt and Anne Murray in the following decade. Their final Top 40 pop hit was “Bowling Green,” in 1967.

After the Warner Bros. decade, it took a while for the duo’s comeback, which happened in the 1980s. The single “On the Wings of a Nightingale” was written by Paul McCartney, who previously paid tribute to “Phil and Don” in his 1976 Wings gold single “Let ‘Em In.” Their biggest 1980s success happened in 1986, when Steve Popovich was running the Mercury label in Nashville with “Born Yesterday,” written by Don Everly, and reached No. 17 on the country chart. At the end of the decade Popovich united The Everly Brothers with Johnny Cash and Rosanne Cash for new versions of Johnny Cash’s early songs “Ballad of a Teenage Queen,” with “Get Rhythm” on its flip side, and this became The Everly Brothers’ final charting single.

October 2019, Musicians Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Concert in Nashville, photo by Terry Wyatt, Getty Images

October 2019, Musicians Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Concert in Nashville, photo by Terry Wyatt, Getty Images

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Goldmine 2020 Interview - The Poppy Family's Susan Jacks Learned Harmony from The Everly Brothers