Everyone like me for whom pop music was the staff of life as it struggled for breath between Elvis and The Beatles has a place in their hearts for the Everly Brothers, Don and Phil, with their immaculate harmonies, quiffs, suits and matching guitars, so I shed a small tear this morning when I switched on our computer to see what a mess the cricketers were in but was sidetracked by the news that Phil had died, aged 74, apparently from a lung disease.
I had most of their singles and I still have the LP here – The Fabulous Style – as well as an EP with ‘Lucille’ on it. I can remember the first time I heard ‘Claudette’, probably my favourite Everly track, at a pub in Dacre Banks near Harrogate where my dad was playing cricket. It was 1959 and I was 12 and too young to be in the bar after the game so I’d been sidelined to a wide corridor near the kitchen where there was a Dansette record player and a pile of singles that belonged to the landlord’s daughter, one of which was ‘Claudette’. I was allowed to play them and I played ‘Claudette’ over and over again until someone told me to stop. Back in Skipton the next day I begged my mum and dad for my own copy.
You don’t need me to tell you that the Everlys were the first great and probably the greatest ever rock’n’roll duo, how they were the first to bridge the gap between country and rock, and how their influence on The Beatles, especially Paul, was all-consuming. I interviewed Phil in, I think, 1972, at the Inn On The Park Hotel at the bottom of Park Lane, and was awed to be in his presence after all those years but distressed that he and Don weren’t on speaking terms. Much later, in the 80s, I saw one of the reunion shows, the only time I saw them, when the magic of Albert Lee’s country licks enhanced their fabulous harmonies.
I’ll be playing the Everlys in the car today as I go about my business, listening again to how Susie overslept, Jenny ended up in jail and Cathy made her ex feel like a clown. And maybe even the sad tale of Flight 1203.