Don Everly, the oldest sibling of the Everly Brothers, died on Saturday (August 21) at his Nashville home, the Los Angeles Times reports. A family spokesman confirmed his death to the Times, but the cause of death was not disclosed. He was 84 years old.
“Don lived on what he felt in his heart,” the family wrote in their statement to the Times. “Don expressed appreciation for the ability to live his dreams … with his soulmate and wife, Adela, and shared the music that made him an Everly Brother.” A number of artists have paid tribute to Don Everly on social media, including Brian Wilson, Nancy Sinatra and Dave Davies of the Kinks. Wilson wrote of the “great influence” the Everly Brothers had on the Beach Boys, adding, “We learned a lot from their beautiful harmonies.”
The duo Don and Phil Everly peaked in popularity in the late 1950s and 1960s, posting nearly three dozen songs on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Known for their country-tinged rock and roll and tight harmonies, the Everly Brothers influenced artists like the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Simon and Garfunkel. In 1986 they were among the first 10 artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Isaac “Don” Everly was born in Brownie, Kentucky, in 1937, but spent most of his childhood in Shenandoah, Iowa. His father, Phillip Everly, was a miner who became a musician and played guitar on his own radio show. In 1945 Don and Phil began singing on the air as “Little Donnie” and “Baby Boy Phil”, which harmonized with their parents. In 1956, the duo recorded their first single, “Keep a-Lovin ‘Me,” penned by Don for Columbia Records. Her breakout hit “Bye Bye Love” was released in 1957 by Cadence Records. The Everly Brothers continued to release chart top singles like “Wake Up Little Susie”, “All I Have to Do Is Dream” and “Cathy’s Clown”. The Everlys’ last US Top 40 hit, Bowling Green, was released in 1967.
In 1970 Don released his first solo album, which, however, had no commercial success. He continued recording with his brother until they announced their final appearance as Everly Brothers in July 1973. Tensions had emerged between the two; During the final show, Phil smashed his guitar on stage and walked away while Don had to finish the set solo. The two then pursued their respective solo careers. Don saw some success with his band, the Dead Cowboys, in Nashville in the mid to late 1970s.
In 1983 the brothers reunited at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Although they played together in various engagements, the two became estranged again in their later years until Phil Everly died of lung disease in 2014, “Don told the Los Angeles Times shortly after his brother’s death. “It still shocks me that he’s gone.”