(Photo: David Redfern, Redferns)
Suzanne Feliciano, Associated Press
Phil Everly, one half of the brother vocal duo whose sibling harmonies sweetened 1960s rock music, has died. He was 74.
He died Friday in Burbank of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, after a lifetime of smoking, his wife , Patti Everly, told the Los Angeles Times.
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The Associated Press confirmed the news with his son, Jason Everly.
"We are absolutely heartbroken," Patti Everly told the paper. "He fought long and hard."
The Everly Brothers, Phil and Don, whose tight harmonies were unmistakable and unforgettable, profoundly influenced everyone from the Beatles to the Beach Boys to the Byrds, to Simon and Garfunklel as well as countless other rock, folk and country singers, starting in the late 1950s.
A generation of teens grew up with their high, clarion voices blasting from car radios on Wake Up Little Susie, Bye Bye Love, Cathy's Clown and All I Have To Do Is Dream.
Singer Linda Ronstadt, who had a big hit in 1975 with When Will I Be Loved, which Phil wrote, and who herself grew up in Tucson singing with her siblings, told The Times there's nothing like vocals produced by family.
"The information of your DNA is carried in your voice, and you can get a sound (with family) that you never get with someone who's not blood-related to you," she told The Times. "And they were both such good singers - they were one of the foundations, one of the cornerstones of the new rock 'n' roll sound."
In October, Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong and jazz-pop singer Norah Jones released a tribute album, Foreverly. Amstrong was full of admiration for the brothers.
The Everly harmonies "are so immaculate," Armstrong told USA TODAY. "And that record was pretty daring at the time. A lot of other rock guys were trying to go pop. Chuck Berry had a string of big hits, and the same with Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis. And here the Everlys were playing these torch songs and murder ballads. For them to do something so dark and angelic was appealing to me."
The duo was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Phillip Everly was born on Jan. 19, 1939, in Chicago, the son of two country musicians, Ike and Margaret Everly. The family was a traveling act, and the brothers started performing together on the family radio show.
Bye Bye Love was their breakthrough hit, in 1957, and their first million-seller. Also in 1957, Wake Up Little Susie, about two teenagers falling asleep at the drive-in theater and waking after curfew, was banned in Boston for its slightly suggestive lyrics. It went to No. 1.
In addition to his wife, Everly is survived by his brother, who will be 77 in February, their mother, Margaret, sons Jason and Chris, and two granddaughters. Funeral services will be private.