Born: February 1, 1937;

Died: August 21, 2021.

DON Everly, who has died aged 84, was one half of the Everly Brothers, the honey-voiced duo who defined teen angst with a close-harmony vocal style loaded with yearning. During their golden period, between 1957 and 1965, Everly and his younger brother, Phil, had more than two dozen top-30 hits in the UK.

In America, it has been said, they had an average of one single in the pop top 10 every four months between 1957 and 1961.

Songs such as Bye Bye Love (1957), All I Have To Do Is Dream (1958), and Crying In The Rain (1961) formed the soundtrack to many a long, heartbroken walk home after the high-school hop. With the passing of the years, the relatively innocent-sounding tone of their records shrouded them in an ennui-laden haze of nostalgia.

In their heyday, the Everlys seemed invincible, belying the seeming fragility of their songs, which sounded like they were about to burst into tears any minute.

Following their first hit with Bye Bye Love they had a stream of chart hits, including All I Have to Do Is Dream/Claudette, a double-A side that topped the UK charts. Cathy’s Clown (1960) stayed at number one in Britain for nine weeks – and Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney co-opted the harmonies of the song for their own composition, Please Please Me.

It was groups such as the Beatles whose raw reinvention of rock ‘n’ roll made the Everlys suddenly sound cutesy and anaemically old hat. The psychedelic revolution, too, left them out of favour, while the fusion of country and rock they had helped foster left them behind. This was despite embracing its stylings on their 1968 album, Roots.

Everly was the more mercurial of the siblings, both artistically and in his private life. His own songs included the tellingly named I’m Tired Of Singing My Song In Las Vegas (1972). He once told a CNN interviewer how “I had this haunted feeling all my life, of being odd man out”. As the hits dried up, he dropped acid, and hung out with Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix.

Gradually, however, the Everly Brothers’ unassuming delivery was recognised as a major force. After years of estrangement between the brothers – so stormy was their relationship at times that they once went a full decade without speaking to each other – a reunion concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1983 helped put them back in the musical pantheon.

A new album, EB84 (1984), was the duo’s first in more than a decade. Produced by Dave Edmunds, it featured songs by Jeff Lynne and Nick Lowe, as well as On The Wings Of A Nightingale, penned by Paul McCartney, perhaps paying back his and Lennon’s debt to one of their biggest influences.

Isaac Donald Everly was born in Brownie, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, to Isaac and Margaret Everly. His parents sang together; his father played guitar. Everly initially grew up in Iowa, where his father ran a radio show on which he and Margaret sang. Their sons also appeared as Little Donnie and Baby Boy Phil, while the entire clan sang as The Everly Family.

The Everlys moved again, first to Knoxville, Tennessee, where their sons attended West High School, and performed on local radio and TV shows. This caught the attention of Chet Atkins, a family friend, and manager of the RCA Victor Studios.

The Everly family moved to Nashville, where Atkins and the studio was, and the boys cut a single, composed by Don, Keep A-Lovin’ Me (1956). Once Phil left school, the brothers began their musical career in earnest and, after signing to Archie Bleyer’s Cadence label, released Bye Bye Love.

The song had been rejected by a host of artists. The Everly Brothers made it their first million-seller.

More hits followed, including Wake Up Little Susie (1957) and Bird Dog (1958). They toured with Buddy Holly, who advised them to smarten up their image, and in 1960 they signed to Warner Brothers. As the 1960s British beat boom swept the Everlys and other artists aside, the brothers diversified, with Roots arguably their finest moment of that period. A solo record, Don Everly (1971), met with indifference, however, and a final appearance as The Everly Brothers saw Don finish the show alone after Phil smashed his guitar and stormed off.

Two more solo albums followed – Sunset Towers (1974), and Brother Jukebox (1977) – and Everly had success in the country charts with his band, Dead Cowboys. He also recorded with Emmylou Harris on her 1979 album, Blue Kentucky Girl. After the reunion and EB84, two more Everly Brothers albums followed – Born Yesterday (1986), and Some Hearts (1988). Their last British chart single was On The Wings Of A Nightingale in 1984.

The pair worked with Paul Simon on his landmark 1986 album, Graceland, co-providing the vocals on the title track, and appeared live with Simon and Garfunkel. Along with his brother, Everly was inaugurated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its inaugural class in 1986, and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.

Phil Everly’s death at the age of 74 in January 2014 cut the final ties of an at-times fractious but fruitful musical partnership.

Don Everly last appeared live as a guest of Simon during his 2018 farewell tour in Nashville. The pair sang Bye Bye Love, with Simon providing the harmony originally sung by Phil. Don’s passing leaves behind a bittersweet legacy of some of the most affecting songs of heartbreak ever recorded.

He is survived by his fourth wife, Adela, and his four children –Venetia, to his first wife, Mary Sue Ingraham, and named after his second wife, Venetia Stevenson, with whom he had two daughters, Stacy and Erin, and a son, Edan. Everly is also survived by his mother.