I feel that as I music fan I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge yesterday's passing of a musical legend. Phil Everly, one half of the amazing Everly Brothers, died Friday morning at the age of 74. Along with his brother Don, Phil was responsible for a number of hits in the late 50's and early 60's including, “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Bye Bye Love,” “Cathy’s Clown,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream” and “When Will I Be Loved?"
I first became aware of the brothers Everly in 1982, I was nine years old. My dad was a fan of Simon and Garfunkel and someone bought him their reunion album "The Concert in Central Park." It was a two record set and the second song on the second side of the first record was "Wake Up Little Susie." I loved that album, my dad would listen to it often, and when he couldn't find it, it was because it was in my bedroom on my little portable turntable. I learned quickly that "Wake Up Little Susie" was not a Simon and Garfunkel song. Even at that early age I would pour over the album covers and read everything printed about the records I enjoyed. The writing credits on "Susie" were not "P. Simon" as all the other songs were. They were Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, the husband and wife songwriting team responsible for most of the Everly Brothers hits. At that point though I didn't think to go any further than that, I liked the song, but had no interest in finding out who performed it originally.
As I got older I heard Everly Brothers songs on oldies radio stations but never really paid much attention to them. As a matter of fact in my teens I dismissed them as being not real "rock and roll" and therefore not worth my time. I knew the hits but didn't really care if I heard them or not. Then one day, in 1992, (I"m now 19 for those keeping track), I heard "Wake Up Little Susie" again. This time being performed by the Grateful Dead, who were my favorite band at the time. It was on a live album of theirs recorded in 1970 at the Filmore East in New York. This gave me pause, maybe there is something more to the Everly Brothers than what I'm seeing. It was a fleeting thought though, and on I went to other things.
Fast forward now, 2006. A friend at work turns me on to a band from the 80's called Rockpile. They made one album called "Seconds of Pleasure". My friend loans me his copy, I like it a lot so I order it through Amazon. It arrives and much to my surprise it's a deluxe edition with bonus tracks, many of them covers of, you guessed it, Everly Brothers songs. O.K. now I start to pay attention. If so many musicians I like and respect (Simon and Garfunkel, Grateful Dead, Rockpile) like and respect the Everly Brothers, maybe I'm missing out on something. It is time to start taking them seriously. I start listening to them with a more attentive ear. I start doing research about them, and I quickly become an Everly Brothers fan.
Our final chapter begins December 30, 2013, as I sit here, 5 days ago. My wife April and I are in Wal-Mart, she's looking for discounted Christmas decorations. I spot a bin with hundreds of CD's thrown in Helter Skelter, and a sign on it that says $5. I say to April, "You know, I've been thinking about the Everly Brothers lately, we don't have any of their albums, maybe there is a greatest hits CD or something in that bin, I'm going to go look." After about 10 minutes of digging around I have found some great stuff, Boz Scaggs, The Doors, Otis Redding, just as I am about to give up, I pull from the bottom of the bin "The Very Best of The Everly Brothers." I buy it, bring it home, listen to it a couple of times, and add it to my vast music library.
What possessed me, four days before Phil Everly's death to actively search for an Everly Brothers CD in a clearance bin at Wal-Mart? What were the chances that I would actually find one? I don't know, call it coincidence, call it something supernatural or spiritual. All I do know is that the world lost a true artist yesterday whose legacy will live on through his recordings and the impact he and his brother had on rock and roll and the musical journey of this fan.