Brief Everly History
Ike Everly was a multi-generation coal miner in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. He would play music after work and on weekends with his two brothers, Chuck and Len. From a local black guitarist named Arnold Schultz, Ike mastered a unique and pioneering thumb-picking guitar style that he later taught to neighbor and fellow coal miner, Merle Travis, who then popularized it for most country and bluegrass musicians who followed.
Young Ike and his wife Margaret had their first child, Isaac Donald Everly, on February 1st of 1937 in Brownie, Kentucky. By this time Ike was ready to try his hand as a full-time musician. Before Don turned 2 the family relocated to Chicago where Ike played out extensively in the Chicago music scene. It was in Chicago, on January l9th, 1939, that second son Phillip Everly was born. Before long Ike was appearing with a country group, The North Carolina Boys, on KXEL radio.
Radio at the time featured live music and comedy shows and in 1945 Ike Everly and his family moved to Shenandoah, lowa, to accept a job offer at KMA radio station At the young ages of 8 and 6, sons Don and Phil began to perform on their parents’ live radio show. Ike instilled in his sons his own love for music, from country and western to blues and everything in between. He encouraged the boys to sing and he taught them to play guitar.
At KMA the brothers were introduced to listeners as “Little Donnie” and “Baby Boy Phil.” Mother Margaret would read the commercials and often join Ike and the boys in four-part harmonies. By 1950 the radio show had become known as “The Everly Family Show.”
During the summer of 1952 the family accepted a job at WIRY in Evansville, Indiana. In September of 1953 they packed up the car and moved their radio show to WROL in Knoxville, where they were offered a job on Cas Walker’s show for $90 a week.
The first famous Everly Brothers fan was Chet Atkins. In 1955 Chet would buy The Everly Brothers a cup of coffee and a piece of pie almost every time he would see them in Nashville. “People knew we were Chet’s friends,” explains Don, “so they didn’t run us out of town.” “One thing that impressed me when I met those kids was that they were so intelligent,” says Chet. “Don and Phil used proper English and I just thought they were a cut above . . . intellectually and education-wise.”
In the spring of 1957 their producer, Archie Bleyer, proudly announced The Everlys’ first Cadence label single with a half-page advertisement in Billboard magazine. In Its April 2Oth issue, Billboard said, “The Tennessee teenagers have a distinctive, appealing sound, and could click big in the Pop as well as C&W fields.”
“Bye Bye Love” had been written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, a husband and wife songwriting team. “We had a song ca led “Give Me A Future: and we took the arrangement off that and put It on “Bye Bye Love” and it just seemed to work.” “Bye Bye Love” enjoyed a 22-week run on the Billboard pop charts, peaking at #2.
“Bye Bye Love” went to #1 on the Country charts and #5 on the R&B, and the record became The Everlys’ first million-seller. The release of “Bye Bye Love” sent The Everiy Brothers spiraling towards stardom and on May 11, 1957, the boys appeared on the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
Their next song, “Wake Up Little Susie”, hit #1 during the week of October l4th and it stayed # 1 for four weeks. It became their second million-seller. After recording “Wake up Little Susie,” Don and Phil hit the road for a 78-city tour that began on September 6th and ran through the 24th of November, 1957, playing alongside some of the all time greats of rock ‘n’ roll such as Chuck Berry, Buddy Knox, The Drifters, Paul Anka, Fats Domino, The Crickets, and Eddie Cochran.
The Everly Brothers did continue on in the entertainment business. They had a summer television series on CBS. The unrelenting tour/performance schedule led to health and stress problems for both. In 1973 they hung up the act and continued on for the next 10 years with solo careers. In September of 1983, after their fathers funeral, The Everly Brothers reunited as a singing duo. They toured again and even recorded some albums that made it on the bestseller charts Don’s son, Edan Everly, would often join the two in concert, singing and playing guitar. Don & Phil’s sons, exceptional musicians and singer/songwriters in their own right, have also enjoyed successful careers. Don and his son Edan Everly performed at a fundraiser for Kentucky flood relief billed as “The Everly Brothers”.
Edan released an album and video for Hollywood Records with his band, “Edan”. Don’s daughter Erin was a successful model and married to Axl Rose of the band, Guns N’ Roses, and is the inspiration for one of the greatest rook ballads of all time, Rose’s, “Sweet Chlid Of Mine”.
Erin is currently writing an autobiography. Phil’s son, Jason Everly, is a successful singer/songwriter, actor, and runs Everly Music Company. Phil’s son, Chris Everly, is also a talented singer/songwriter.
In 1994, Rhino Records issued a 103-song/4 disc collection called, “Heartaches & Harmonies” which spans the entire recording career of Don and Phil. The box set includes some 40 tracks making their CD debut. 12 songs appearing in stereo for the first time, and 2 previously unreleased songs from the Warner Bros’ period.
The family is currently recording an Everly Family Album that incorporates songs with Ike Everly, The Everly Brothers, and the brothers’ sons.
Some Everly Brothers Achievements:
- Are the most successful U S. rock and roll duo on the Hot 100.
- Hold the record for the most Top 17 singles by any duo.
- Had 26 Billboard Top 40 singles and 35 Billboard Top 100 singles.
- Were among the first 10 artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- Were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
- Were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004.
- Are recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, a tribute to their pioneering efforts in the development of a cross mixture of many musical genres.
- Received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.
- Received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy.
- Have a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.
- Are credited by many artists as being their greatest influence including John Lennon and Paul McCartney (who called themselves “The Forevely Brothers), Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, The Byrds and The Beach Boys to name just a few!