This story of the Everly Brothers was adapted from a biography provided by Terry Faulkner of The Bearden Village Council.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knoxville’s Don and Phil Everly, performing at the “Everly Brothers,” changed the trajectory of American music history by blending various genres of music and popularizing smooth, close harmonies underscored with acoustic guitars and a rock beat.
Their father, “Ike” Everly, was born in 1909 into a Kentucky coal-mining family, who worked in mines and at age 26 married Margaret Embry.
He was an excellent mountain musician and dreamed of a career in music. Encouraged by his father, he left Kentucky for Chicago with Margaret and their first child, Don, to pursue his dream.
Phil was born two years later.
By 1945 when Don was eight-years-old, and Phil, six, they were performing on their Mom and Dad’s popular radio show in Shenandoah, Iowa, and touring with them in the Midwest. They would later record “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us” in honor of Ike.
The family moved to Knoxville in 1953 to appear on the Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour radio show. Ike also worked as a barber and Margaret, a beautician, to supplement the family income.
They lived in Bearden in a boarding house on Scenic Drive and Margaret worked in a house just a block from the Everly Brothers Park.
Don and Phil attended West High School where they stood out with their long hair coifed into “duck tails.” Cas Walker, who had also worked in the Kentucky coal mines, fired the duo for too much “jumping up and down.“
The boys left Knoxville in 1955 for Nashville to accept an offer from Chet Atkins to help with their recording career. Two years later, “Bye, Bye, Love” became an international hit and that led to a steady stream of hits including “Wake up Little Susie,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” and “Cathy’s Clown.”
By 1962 they had earned 35 million in record sales. Fans were enamored with their exquisite harmonies which blended country and rock.
The brothers called it pop and sometimes skiffle music; it was music that influenced a generation of legendary artists including the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Carole King and the Beach Boys.
The Everly Brothers have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Vocal Groups Hall of Fame, to receive the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and have a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood.