When it comes to fraternal harmonies, brothers Don and Phil Everly are usually the first names to come to mind. The Everlys cleverly forged the path between such country vocal acts as the Louvin Brothers and the Carter Family and such British vocal bands as the Beatles. They grew up solidly in the country tradition — parents Ike and Margaret were both country performers — but they updated and rocked up that tradition to a point where their close harmonies and immaculate guitar arrangements had more influence on the Beatles' sound than practically any other '50s antecedent.
In a splendid string of hits racked up in the '50s and early '60s, their two-part harmonies seemed a palpable example of how close two souls could become. Phil has said, "Harmony is the ultimate love," while Don maintained, "Brothers sing differently. We sing as one person."
But on such songs as "Crying in the Rain" and "Let It Be Me," when a solo voice (Don's) soared over the musical bridge, one could almost imagine it was driven by a need to briefly escape the gravity of each other's proximity.
The need for an individual life manifested itself in real life on July 13, 1973, when the Everlys very publicly called it quits during a performance at Knott's Berry Farm. In the unanticipated proceedings a guitar was smashed, and Don declared, "It's over. I quit. I'm tired of being an Everly Brother."
The brothers had gotten their start on their father's radio show in the 1940s. They signed their first recording contract in 1955 with Columbia, but success didn't come until two years later when they were recruited for the Cadence Records label.
Their first hit, "Bye Bye Love," reached No. 2 on the charts that same year and was followed by a string of hits over the next decade that included "Wake Up Little Susie" and "All I Have to Do Is Dream."
After their very public breakup, the brothers did not reunite as performers for 10 years. The brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and were honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Grammys in 1988.