Don Everly, one-half of the pioneering Everly Brothers whose harmonising country rock hits impacted a generation of rock ‘n’ roll music, has died aged 84.
Mr Everly died at his home in Nashville, Tennessee, on Saturday, according to his lawyer and family spokeswoman Linda Edell Howard.
His brother, Phil Everly, died in January 2014 aged 74.
“Don lived by what he felt in his heart,” a family statement said.
“Don expressed his appreciation for the ability to live his dreams … living in love with his soulmate and wife Adela, and sharing the music that made him an Everly Brother. Don always expressed how grateful he was for his fans.”
In the late 1950s and 1960s, the duo of Don and Phil drew upon their rural roots with their strummed guitars and high, yearning harmonies, while their poignant songs – many by the team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant – embodied teenage restlessness and energy.
Their 19 top 40 hits included Bye Bye Love, Let It Be Me, All I Have To Do Is Dream and Wake Up Little Susie, and performers from The Beatles to Simon & Garfunkel cited them as key influences.
“The Everly Brothers are integral to the fabric of American music,” musician Jerry Lee Lewis said in a statement.
“With my friend Don’s passing, I am reflective … reflective on a life full of wonderful friends, spectacular music and fond memories.
“There’s a lot I can say about Don, what he and Phil meant to me both as people and as musicians, but I am going to reflect today.”
Songs like Bye Bye Love and Wake Up Little Susie appealed to the post-war generation of baby boomers, and their deceptively simple harmonies hid greater meaning among the lighter pop fare of the era.
The two broke up amid quarrelling in 1973 after 16 years of hits, then reunited in 1983, “sealing it with a hug”, Phil Everly said.
Although their number of hit records declined in the late 1980s, they had successful concert tours in the US and Europe.
They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1986, the same year they had a hit pop-country record, Born Yesterday.
Two years earlier, they had success with the up-tempo ballad On The Wings Of A Nightingale, written by Paul McCartney.
“As a singer, a songwriter and a guitar innovator, Don Everly was one of the most talented and impactful artists in popular music history,” Kyle Young, chief executive of the Country Music Hall Of Fame and Museum, said in a statement.
The brothers were inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 2001.
Don Everly was born in Brownie, Kentucky, to Ike and Margaret Everly, who were folk and country music singers.
Phil Everly was born to the couple in Chicago, where the Everlys moved from Brownie when Ike grew tired of working in the coal mines.
The brothers began singing country music in 1945 on their family’s radio show in Iowa.
Their career breakthrough came when they moved to Nashville in the mid-1950s and signed a recording contract with New York-based Cadence Records.
Their breakup came dramatically during a concert at Knott’s Berry Farm in California. Phil Everly threw his guitar down and walked off, prompting Don Everly to tell the crowd: “The Everly Brothers died 10 years ago.”
The disputes between the brothers even went to court, when Don Everly sued the heirs of Phil Everly in 2017 over the copyright to three of their songs, including Cathy’s Clown.
But after Phil’s death in 2014, Don said that he felt a spiritual message from his brother before he died.
“Our love was and will always be deeper than any earthly differences we might have had,” Don Everly said in a statement in 2014.