The Everly Brothers

2003 - Individual Artist

Members: Don Everly and Phil Everly

Isaac Donald and Phillip Everly were raised in a Kentucky-rooted musical family. Don was born in Kentucky and Phil in Chicago, Ill., the sons of Ike and Margaret Everly who were folk and country singers from the central part of Kentucky. Ike was one of the few “authentic” (thumb-picking) guitarists in American music.

Soon after Don was born (1937), Ike decided to leave the coal region and move to Chicago to pursue a career in music and find a better life for his young family. After he had established himself as a professional entertainer, Phil was born (1939). Ike decided to take a job in Iowa where he could raise his boys in a healthier rural environment.

Mr. Everly joined KMA, a powerful radio station in Shenandoah where he was a staff artist until 1951. It was during the family’s residence in Iowa that the boys began working with their mother and father on radio and on stage.

In 1953 the family moved to Knoxville, Tenn. where they worked on WROL Radio performing two shows a day and getting paid $90 a week. When the money ran out, Ike got in touch with Chet Atkins in Nashville. It wasn’t long before Chet had one of the songs Don wrote “Thou Shalt Not Steal” recorded by Kitty Wells. It was a hit and the decision was made to split up the family act and send the brothers to Nashville.

In February of 1957, the Everly Brothers signed with Cadence Records, released “Bye Bye Love”, sold over two million records and began a career that established them as the most influential duo in the history of recorded music. As Bob Dylan said of Don and Phil, “We owe these guys everything. They started it all.”

In June of that year, the brothers made their first appearance as regulars on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. That night, they were the first act to use drums on the Opry and to this day are given credit for introducing and developing the use of drums in Nashville.

Over the years, their blend of country, rock & roll, bluegrass and rockabilly has remained popular with pop, rock, country and R&B listeners simultaneously. In five years, their output of hits brought home many, many gold records. Among those hits were: I Wonder If I Care As Much, Claudette, Bird Dog, Devoted To You, Problems, Take A Message To Mary, Til I Kissed You, Let It Be Me, When Will I Be Loved, Cathy’s Clown, So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad), Wake Up Little Susie, All They Have To Do Is Dream, Walk Right Back, Ebony Eyes, Temptation, Crying In The Rain and many more.

In 1970 Don and Phil had their own highly rated television show “Johnny Cash Presents The Everly Brothers.” The show gave them the opportunity to bring their father out of retirement to perform with them before a national audience.

The Everly Brothers toured the world for nearly two decades. They appeared several times in Iowa and hit over 700 cities in the U.S. and Canada plus19 other foreign countries. From 1973-1983 the brothers split up to pursue solo performing and writing careers with significant individual successes.

Sept. 22-23, 1983 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England the Everly Brothers reunited their careers and performed two historic concerts. The reunion concert was released as a double album and aired around the world as an HBO cable television special.

In January of 1986, Don and Phil were two of the original inductees into the National Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Having sold far over 40 million records and having created a sound that is beyond fad and whims of the music industry, they were honored as two artists who laid the foundation for an art form that created a cultural revolution. They also have a star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame.

Traveling and recording still, the Everly Brothers decided late last year to take a year off from all public appearances to refresh themselves. A hectic schedule for many years brought about the decision to take the hiatus.

For their major impact on the music industry and their career beginnings in while living in Iowa, the Everly Brothers are being inducted into the Iowa RockNRoll Hall of Fame in 2003.

Phil Everly passed away in January of 2014 due to complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association Hall of Fame & Museum exists to preserve the legacy of rock and roll music in Iowa by honoring achievements, educating youth and inspiring artists. Established in 1997, we are a501(c)(3) non-profit statewide organization with many areas of service.

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Instagram