The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation Loses a Special Friend

Don released this statement on his brother’s passing:

I loved my brother very much. I always thought I’d be the one to go first. I was listening to one of my favorite songs that Phil wrote and had an extreme emotional moment just before I got the news of his passing. I took that as a special spiritual message from Phil saying good-bye. Our love was and will always be deeper than any earthly differences we might have had. The world might be mourning an Everly Brother, but I’m mourning my brother Phil Everly. My wife Adela and I are touched by all the tributes we’re seeing for Phil and we thank you for allowing us to grieve in private at this incredibly difficult time.

An “Honored Friend” of the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation, Phil was presented last year with a custom-built 1943 Gibson J-45 Buddy Holly replica acoustic guitar built with the special designation “Wishing,” named after one of Buddy’s most beloved songs that Buddy wrote specially for the Everly Brothers in 1958. Below is a picture of the guitar being presented by Foundation Board Member Peter Bradley Junior to Phil’s son Jason Everly:

The Everly Brothers’ songs such as “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Bye Bye Love,” and “When Will I Be Loved?” kept the brothers on the top of the pop charts on both sides of the Atlantic from the late 1950s to the early 1960s. The Everly’s were rock and roll’s first “cross-over” stars, winning country, R&B and Pop listeners with their ringing voices and chiming guitars, featuring the Rockabilly sound pioneered by their close friend Buddy Holly.

Buddy and Phil became extremely close during their constant touring with each other in 1957 and 1958, when they played over 75 gigs together. When the Everly Brothers found themselves without a backing band for a February 1958 tour of Florida, Buddy and The Crickets selflessly volunteered to be The Everly’s band. Later in 1958, Phil returned the favor by co-producing with Buddy a young singer and protégé of Buddy’s, Lou Giordano. When Buddy first turned to writing songs with others in mind, his very first foray was for The Everlys with “Loves Made A Fool Of You” and “Wishing,” which adorns the guitar presented by the Foundation last year to Phil. Unfortunately, the Everly’s contract with Wesley Rose prevented them from doing any outside songs, so we never heard what would surely have been recording magic on these tunes.

Later in 1958, Phil and Buddy spent a lot of time together in New York, where Buddy was living with his new bride, Maria Elena Holly, the Co-Founder of the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation. Below is a picture of Phil and Buddy at Hotel Wolcott, in New York City on September 30, 1958:

Buddy and Phil’s friendship carried over even after Buddy’s unfortunate passing. Phil was the only non-Lubbock family friend to serve as pallbearer at Buddy’s funeral. In later years the Everly Brothers kept Buddy’s memory alive by singing his songs and reminding their fans of the brilliance of their best friend from Texas.

The Everlys were, as with Buddy, role models for succeeding generations of rock vocal harmonizers, paving the way for the Beatles, Linda Ronstadt, Simon and Garfunkel, and many others who recorded their songs and tried to emulate their exact, ringing vocal magic. The Everly Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its first year, 1986, along with their friend Buddy Holly.

Phil Everly is survived by his brother Don, and by their mother, Margaret Everly; as well as his wife, Patti, his sons, Jason and Chris, and two granddaughters.

Foundation Co-Founder and close friend Maria Elena Holly recalls her and Buddy’s life-long friend Phil:

“When Phil lived in New York he used to come over to our place constantly, and he and Buddy were together all the time. We would all go out to dinner together, and Phil and Buddy got along so fabulously. I am so sorry to lose one of Buddy’s best friends, and my heart goes out to Patti his wife and the rest of the family. We will all miss him.”

Finally, Foundation friend Monte Warden, a Texas Music Hall of Fame Member, who performed last spring at the “Celebrate Buddy!” tribute at SXSW 2013, added his Phil Everly memory:

“I have a very personal memory of Phil that occurred at the 2006 BMI Songwriter Awards in Nashville. I was there to receive my Radio Award for my song “Desperately.” I saw Mr. Everly standing by himself and saw my chance to go talk with him. When I approached him I said, ‘Mr. Everly, my name is Monte Warden’. I could say nothing else as I was overtaken with emotion in the presence of this great man and friend of my hero Buddy Holly. Mr. Everly assuaged my embarrassment and comforted me with the words, ‘That’s OK, Son, John Lennon did the same thing when he met me.’ He then asked me what I was getting an award for, and smiled and looked me dead in the eye and said, as only one writer can say to another, “Writing a hit song feels great, doesn’t it?” He then asked me my name again and said, ‘Congratulations on your BMI Award, Monte.’ I’ll never forget his graciousness.

The Foundation has lost a special friend, one of Buddy’s closest, but Heaven has gained a truly angelic voice for the Heavenly Choir.

Further list of heartfelt tributes from around the world

There was nothing like it. It was a combination of their country upbringing and when they became teenagers they fell in love with rock and roll. They sounded like no-one else.

Albert Lee

Phil Everly, dear friend. You gave the world so much happiness.

Duane Eddy

My heart is so saddened by the passing of Phil Everly. I could never get enough of the Everly Bros voices. Love & Mercy to family & friends.

Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys)

Paul McCartney has posted personal remembrance about his early influence Phil Everly. The Everly Brothers co-founder passed away on Friday. In a message he said, “Phil Everly was one of my great heroes. With his brother Don, they were one of the major influences on The Beatles. When John and I first started to write songs, I was Phil and he was Don.Years later when I finally met Phil, I was completely starstruck and at the same time extremely impressed by his humility and gentleness of soul. I will always love him for giving me some of the sweetest musical memories of my life.”

Sir Paul McCartney

Every close harmony duo recognizes the immense debt they owe to the Everly Brothers. The Everlys were the very best and we all know it. When Gordon and I first got to meet Don and Phil it was act of homage. We had been singing their songs and copying their harmonies from the day we got together.

“I got to know Phil quite well and he was a man as charming, kind and smart as he was musically brilliant. A couple of years ago when I got to produce and host a Buddy Holly special for PBS, one of the highlights for Graham Nash and I was when we got to sing two lines of ‘That’ll Be The Day’ with Phil, our idol. He was not very well even then but sounded as thrilling as ever.

“No two voices can ever vie with the Everly Brothers as a duo and no high harmony singer will ever compare to Phil. He was the best and will be sorely missed in every way.”

Peter Asher

So Sad

Somehow, although it might seem corny to use this song title, I can’t get it out of my mind tonight. It’s about 3 am, the time when normally I’m awake writing or E-mailing, or restoring photographs, or just keeping the fingers in trim on my old acoustic guitar. It’s the oddest thing, and so sad. Only last night at about this time I was strumming the old Everly Brothers hit of that name, and in my head I could still hear every note played by every instrument on the track, and sing every nuance of the two parts that Don and Phil Everly sang all those years ago. When we’re young, we soak up up the things we love like a sponge, and the music of the Everlies, which thrilled me to the core when I was a boy, will be in my head til I die. Kerry Ellis and I agreed a couple of weeks ago that So Sad was going to be one of the new songs in our set, when we resume the Candlelight concerts in February. So I was working on some arrangement ideas, but keeping very close to the essence of the original – I’m a purist when it comes to things like that. Even the way the Everlies performed the song in their reunion days didn’t feel right to me. I wanted the wonderful unblushing naive bite of the way it was done on that 7-inch piece of black vinyl in a blue and white lined sleeve, probably in one take, and certainly with no overdubs, auto tune, or edits. So I was singing the parts one at a time, planning to record some ideas.

And tonight, about 3 am, I hear that Phil is gone. I feel like a huge piece of my youth just melted away. I loved, loved those guys, and still do. From the Everly Brothers I learned to play rhythm guitar (a lot of people don’t have that experience these days), and I learned every note of both parts they sang – normally Phil taking the top part and Don the lower. From this I learned how two-part harmonies work – how different emotions are evoked using different sequences of intervals, how to find the moments that chill your spine, and avoid the ‘easy’ too-sweet harmonies that would make it sound trite. I know for sure that The Beatles learned a lot from the Everlies too – they too had a powerful innate understanding of how these things could be made to work (I knew it the first time I heard ‘Love Me Do’ on the radio – and compare the wonderful diverging harmonies of Please Please Me with the Everlies’ Cathy’s Clown).

I could probably write a book on the music of the fabulous Everly Brothers, but you’ll find echoes of their influence in a lot of our old Queen songs, and perhaps that is the best tribute. But if you’re curious and want a real trip through a glittering canon of quintessential 1950s-60s era gold-plated Pop, right now, find the Everly Brothers hits some place, imagine the last 50 years never happened, and give yourself a treat. Bye Bye Love, Wake Up Little Susie, Dream (ouch!), Crying in the Rain, I Wonder If I Care As Much, Always It’s You, Til I Kissed You … I’m sure they are all there on-line. I’m not looking at any lists … all this stuff lives in my head as one of my most treasured memories. It’s pure joy.

I never met them. Wish I had. But they will always be my heroes. I don’t think they will know who I am, but my heartfelt condolences to Phil’s wife, his family and friends, and of course to Don. I can’t imagine how that must be. So hard, So sad.
RIP Phil Everly … you were magic. I have tears in my eyes.

Brian May (Queen)

Death of the great Phil Everly one of the saddest musical exits of all time for me. He and Don more influential than even they knew.

Sir Tim Rice

They had the sibling sound. The information of your DNA is carried in your voice, and you can get a sound that you never get with someone who’s not blood-related to you. And they were both such good singers, they were one of the foundations, one of the cornerstones of the new rock’n’roll sound.

Linda Rondstadt

God bless Phil Everly. The Everlys were the real deal when it comes to American music. I saw them in the 60s at the 20 Grand in Detroit, and they seriously rocked the huge house, with just two Gibson Jumbos, and their voices. And man, did these guys have cool haircuts. I bought ‘Songs our Daddy Taught Us’ on download recently and there’s a whole life lesson in there. It’s brothers like the Everlys, that make the music scene of today worth bothering with. I am in their debt like so many others, for they have enriched my life. Iggy.

Iggy Pop

Phil Everly has passed away. Very sad. ‘Problems ‘ was my first-ever 45rpm single. Everly Bros harmonies were the soundtrack to my teens.

Bob Harris

Phil Everly is gone. Touring with Phil and Don was one of the thrills of my life.

I love you Phillip.

Godspeed (Nancy Sinatra)

RIP Phil Everly and his beautiful high harmony voice… Huge loss RS

Ron Sexsmith

I am saddened by the news of the passing of Phil Everly,” Armstrong wrote. “The Everly brothers go way back as far as I can remember hearing music. Those harmonies will live on forever.” Via his Twitter, the Green Day frontman added: “We’re gonna miss you Phil. Gratitude.

Billie Joe Armstrong

The Everlys had a huge influence on all kinds of musicians,” Jones said in a statement. “The high harmonies Phil sang were fluid and so beautiful and always sound effortless in a way that just washes over the listener. He was one of our greats and it’s very sad to lose him.

Norah Jones

About 7, maybe 8 years ago, Phil Everly came to see us and was a very gracious guest. He stayed to the end, came back to say hi and told us that it’s great to hear a band do what you do without any damn tapes! There was a collective swelling of pride in the dressing room when we heard those words from one of the best harmony singers of all time.

What an honor to be in the same room as him and hear him say such nice things; [he was] a true gentleman.

Joe Elliot, Def Leppard

So sad that Phil Everly has just died. I loved the Everly’s and managed to meet Phil at Ringo’s Star ceremony on the Walk of Fame. So Sad.

Eric Idle

Many country stars posted their condolences on Twitter:

“So sad to hear about the passing of Phil Everly,” said Steve Wariner. “Another piece of rock n’ roll history gone. Love to the family.”

“Rest in peace Phil Everly (Everly Brothers), a giant influence on all of us,” said the Bellamy Brothers.

“RIP brother Phil Everly #RIPPhilEverly Legendary influence to ALL of us!!” said The Oak Ridge Boys.

“RIP Phil Everly. Thank you for your massive contribution to the music world. Some of the coolest records Ever!.” said Bryan White.

“Rest in peace Phil Everly,” said Charlie Daniels. “You guys brought us a lot of pleasure back in the day.”

“Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of my friend Phil Everly… he was a great artist and songwriter… his impact on our soundscape is vast,” said Cowboy Troy.

Bob Dylan once famously said: “We owe these guys everything. They started it all.”

Read this Powerful Tribute of the late Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers

Sources: Twitter & Facebook