Songs Our Daddy Taught Us (1958) was an acoustic album paying tribute to the mournful country songs of their youth. They were immaculately performed and in 2014, the whole album was re-recorded by Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones for the CD, Foreverly. They had their own share of tragedy when their friend, Buddy Holly, was killed in an air crash and Phil was a pallbearer at his funeral.
Phil Everly married the Bleyer’s daughter, Jackie, but this wasn’t enough to keep them at Cadence. They received such a large offer from Warner Brothers that Cadence couldn’t compete. They hoped it would lead to appearances in Warners’ films, preferably westerns, but nothing happened.
Their first record for Warners was another transatlantic number 1, ‘Cathy’s Clown’, written, it was said, by Don Everly, but Phil later took legal action to establish his rights to half of the royalties. They followed it with the melancholic ‘So Sad’ and the classic double-sider, ‘Walk Right Back’ (written by their guitarist Sonny Curtis) and the ‘death disc’, ‘Ebony Eyes’.
The Everly Brothers loved the more strident sounds of Bo Diddley, Little Richard and Ray Charles and recorded their songs. Little Richard’s ‘Lucille’ was one long screech, but the Everlys saw how to convert it to an imaginative harmony recording.
In 1961 the Everlys recorded a barnstorming version of Bing Crosby’s ‘Temptation’, which topped the UK charts. It displeased their manager Wesley Rose, who favoured Acuff-Rose songs for their singles. They fell out with him and as a result could no longer record the Bryants’ songs. They turned to the Brill Building and sang the exquisite “Crying In The Rain”, written by Carole King and Howard Greenfield. Their last US Top 10 hit was with “That’s Old-Fashioned” in 1962.
Their military services in the marines had a negative effect as they came into contact with amphetamines. Don tried to commit suicide on the eve of a UK tour with Frank Ifield in 1962. Phil continued the tour on his own and was well received.
In 1963 they returned to the UK for arguably the strongest touring package ever – the Everly Brothers, Little Richard, Bo Diddley and the Rolling Stones – but the Everlys were performing their songs far too fast.
Their harmonies influenced the British beat groups, notably the Beatles whose “Please Please Me” owes something to “Cathy’s Clown”. The Hollies wrote an album for the Everly Brothers, Two Yanks In England (1966) and Graham Nash said that singing on stage with them was the highpoint of his life. In the US, Bob Dylan (who recorded “Let It Be Me” and “Take A Message To Mary”), Simon and Garfunkel (“Bye Bye Love”), the Beach Boys and Byrds regarded the Everlys as a paradigm.