Phil Everly, the younger of the Everly Brothers singing duo, died Friday from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 74.
Phil and his brother Don enjoyed a string of hits in the late 1950s and 1960s including "Wake Up Little Susie," "All I Have to Do is Dream" and "Bye Bye Love."
"We are absolutely heartbroken," his widow Patti said. She said her husband's disease was caused by cigarette smoking. "He fought long and hard," she told the Los Angeles Times.
The duo sang dark songs hidden behind deceptively pleasing harmonies, influencing a whole generation of musicians who transformed popular music. The Beatles once referred to themselves as “the English Everly Brothers.” Bob Dylan said: ”We owe these guys everything. They started it all.”
In their heyday between 1957 and 1962, the brothers had 19 top 40 hits in the United States. The two broke up amid quarrelling in 1973 after 16 years of hits, and then reunited in 1983 for a series of successful concert tours in North America country and Europe.
They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, the same year they had a hit pop-country record, “Born Yesterday.” They also are members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, a nod to their heritage. Phil Everly was born on January 19, 1939, in Chicago, two years after his older brother.
Their parents were folk and country music singers Ike and Margaret Everly. The brothers began performing in 1945 on their family's radio show in Iowa. Their sound would become more cosmopolitan over time but they never strayed far from their country roots.
Don Everly once said that the two were successful because “we never followed trends. We did what we liked and followed our instincts. Rock `n' roll did survive, and we were right about that. Country did survive, and we were right about that. You can mix the two but people said we couldn't.”
Their breakup came dramatically during a concert at Knott's Berry Farm in California. Phil Everly threw his guitar down and walked off, prompting Don Everly to tell the crowd, “The Everly Brothers died 10 years ago.”
During their breakup, they pursued solo singing careers with little success. Phil appeared in the Clint Eastwood movie “Every Which Way but Loose.”
"Don and I are infamous for our split," Phil said, "but we're closer than most brothers. Harmony singing requires that you enlarge yourself, not use any kind of suppression. Harmony is the ultimate love."
In addition to his wife, Everly is survived by his brother, Don, their mother, Margaret, sons Jason and Chris, and two granddaughters.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-01-04