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Don Everly of the iconic rock ‘n’ roll duo the Everly Brothers has died at the age of 84 at his home in Nashville.
The singer’s family told the Los Angeles Times through a spokesperson this Saturday that he had passed on that day.
His death comes seven years after he lost his brother Phil, with whom he formed the iconic rock ‘n’ roll duo that rocketed them both to stardom.
Dearly departed: Don Everly of the iconic rock ‘n’ roll duo the Everly Brothers has died at the age of 84 at his home in Nashville; he is pictured in 1998
Legends: His death comes just seven years after he lost his brother Phil, with whom he formed the iconic rock ‘n’ roll duo that rocketed them both to stardom; they are pictured in 1965
‘Don lived by what he felt in his heart,’ his family said in a public statement marking his death over the weekend.
‘Don expressed his appreciation for the ability to live his dreams … with his soulmate and wife, Adela, and sharing the music that made him an Everly Brother.’
Before they were known as the Everly Brothers the two siblings sang in the Everly Family – a 1940s act that included them with their parents Ike and Margaret.
‘Country’s not the right word for what he played,’ Don said of his father during a 1986 interview with Rolling Stone. ‘It was more uptown, more honky-tonk. I’ll tell you the right word for it: blues. White blues.’
Throwback: Their breakthrough single was Bye Bye Love in 1957 and they continued to be a success through the late 1950s; they are pictured together in 1959
Originally born Isaac Donald Everly in Kentucky, he and Phil whiled away much of their early childhood in Iowa before spending their teen years in Tennessee.
It was there that they began their careers the Nashville country music scene, spinning their wheels for years before scoring a hit with Bye Bye Love in 1957.
The number had been written by the husband-wife team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant who pitched it unsuccessfully to 30 acts before the Everly Brothers took it.
They spun it into their breakthrough success, scoring a number one on the country charts and even a number two on the pop charts.
Troubled times: In the 1960s the act had to suffer through diminishing commercial success stateside as well as Don’s addiction to Ritalin; they are pictured in London in 1962
A number of hits followed, from songs written by others like Wake Up Little Susie to songs Don wrote like Cathy’s Clown and (Til) I Kissed You.
However as their career rolled into the early 1960s – with a brief pause for them to both serve in the marines – Don found himself addicted to Ritalin as a result of his involvement with Dr. Max Jacobson.
Max Jacobson was the infamous ‘Dr. Feelgood’ who administered ultimately addictive ‘vitamin shots’ to an all-star clientele including John F. Kennedy.
‘People didn’t understand drugs that well then. They didn’t know what they were messing with,’ Don reflected decades later.
Seen circa 1965: In the 1960s the the new mainstream sound of rock ‘n’ roll had become harsher than the older style exemplified by 1950s harmonizing of the Everly Brothers
‘It wasn’t against the law: I saw a picture of my doctor with the president, you know? But it got out of hand, naturally. It was a real disaster for a lot of people, and it was a disaster for me. Ritalin made you feel energized. You could stay up for days. It just got me strung out. I got so far out there, I didn’t know what I was doing.’
His addiction spiraled into a breakdown and a suicide attempt, whereupon he was institutionalized and subjected to electroconvulsive therapy.
‘They say shock therapy is good for some things, but it didn’t do me any good,’ said Don, who was ultimately able to successfully conquer his Ritalin problem.
‘It was a pretty primitive treatment at the time – once they gave it to you, you couldn’t remember how long you’d been there. It knocked me back for a long time. I thought I’d never write again.’
Around that time the Everly Brothers refocused their career on Britain and the Commonwealth, having retained their fame there as they went out of style in the US.
From an artistic standpoint they remained a fascinating act, releasing one of the pioneering albums of country rock when they put out their record Roots in 1968.
However the new mainstream sound of rock ‘n’ roll had become harsher than the older style exemplified by 1950s harmonizing of the Everly Brothers.
Early on in the 1970s the partnership had become infamously to fray, and Don even put out a flop solo record named after himself.
In 1973 they went public with the fact that they were breaking up, though they offered fans a farewell show at Knott’s Berry Farm in California.
The gig was a disaster from the started – and Phil ultimately smashed his guitar into the stage of the John Wayne Theater and stormed off.
Don, who wrapped up the engagement solo after Phil’s outburst, went onto mournfully declare: ‘The Everly Brothers died 10 years ago.’
For the following decade they resolutely refused to speak to one another with the singular exception of Ike’s funeral.
Both of them trouped along through the rest of the 1970s carrying on solo careers, largely in the United Kingdom.
After sensationally splitting up onstage in 1973, they mended fences onstage in 1983 with a show at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Three years later when the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall Of Fame was founded the Everly Brothers were among the inaugural set of inductees.
They continued to perform together as an in-demand nostalgia act into the early 21st century, even doing a guest spot on a Simon And Garfunkel reunion tour in 2003.
However by the mid-aughts they stopped performing together and their personal relationship also apparently soured again.
Phil was just 74 when he died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which his widow Patti attributed to his years and years of smoking.
After his brother’s death Don revealed that Phil had given up cigarettes in the late 1960s but ‘started again after we broke up, and smoked until 2001.’
Their personal and political differences ultimately drove a wedge between them late in life and Don revealed after his death they had a ‘very difficult’ relationship.
He told the Los Angeles Times of losing his little brother: ‘I’m not over it. I really feel sad. I think about him every day. I always thought about him every day, even when we were not speaking to each other. It still just shocks me that he’s gone.’
Don offered professional praise as well: ‘He was a great singer, Phil. We did that all our lives – it’s almost like we could read each other’s minds when we sang.’