Boomers Lose a Second Everly Brother

Don Everly, the lower-register harmony voice of the duo, the Everly Brothers, died this week. Don was usually the lead singer of the group. He was the older brother to Phil (who died in 2014; see Mister Boomer’s Bye, Bye Love: Another Boomer Icon Has Passed).

As previously noted, Chet Atkins was instrumental in getting the brothers their first record deal, and the duo burst on the scene in 1957 with Bye Bye Love. They had a string of Top Ten hits in the late fifties and early sixties.

Both brothers enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1961, and shortly after boot camp, performed in uniform on The Ed Sullivan Show, singing Crying In the Rain. They were released from the Marine Corps in 1962, after six months of service. The popularity of their brand of country/folk/rock was fading as the British Invasion hit the U.S. in 1964, but the brothers continued to record and perform.

The duo famously broke up in mid-concert in 1973 when brother Phil walked off the stage. It is reported the brothers did not speak to each other for a decade. However, they did reunite for a concert in 1983, recorded a new album a year later, and performed together occasionally for another decade.

In 2018, Phil’s surviving family filed a copyright claim to half the royalties of the song, Cathy’s Clown (written in 1960). Don sued the estate of his brother to reclaim his copyright, stating that Phil signed a release giving up his rights to the song and acknowledged that Don was the sole writer of the song. The two brothers were listed as co-writers on the record and shared in royalties until 1980.

Known for their harmonies, the brothers also penned several songs together, though their biggest hits were written by others. They also are listed as sole songwriters on several tunes that became hits for other bands. For instance, Phil wrote their classic tune, When Will I Be Loved (1960), which became a huge hit for Linda Ronstadt in 1975.

Songs Don wrote:
(Till) I Kissed You – 1959; Chet Atkins played guitar on the record, and Jerry Allison of the Crickets played drums
Cathy’s Clown – 1960; *disputed by Phil, who claimed the two of them wrote it together
So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad) – 1960; it was recorded by several artists in the 1960s and ’70s
The Facts of Life -1964
The Drop Out – 1964
I Used to Love You – 1965
Why Wasn’t I Born Rich? – 1967; recorded by Cliff Richard

(Till) I Kissed You and Cathy’s Clown were bona fide hits for the brothers. The others failed to chart or were released by other country, R&B or rock groups.

The brothers were inducted into the inaugural class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and were given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

Mister Boomer has a personal connection to songs by the Everly Brothers, as previously mentioned when Phil passed away. His appreciation of their music has expanded as an adult, and he can see why so many artists and bands of the early days of rock and roll were so influenced by their sound.

Do you have fond memories of listening to the Everly Brothers? Did you take sides in the battle of the brothers, boomers?


Boomers Watched Music Videos Before MTV

MTV turned 40 this week. Certainly it left its mark on the culture, especially the generation immediately following the boomers. Many of us were out working jobs and raising families by the time MTV began broadcasting on July 31, 1981. However, it occurred to Mister Boomer that even though there had not been a channel devoted to music videos 24/7 before MTV, boomers still saw many music videos as far back as the 1950s, aired on various TV shows like the British Top of the Pops, and both national and local programs in the U.S.

The pairing of music and film goes all the way back to the first talkies in the 1920s. In the boomer years, one might argue that every Elvis movie was a promotional spot for the release of a record, and each song in the movie a music video. However, can anyone deny Elvis’ performance of Jaihouse Rock (1957), in that wonderful two-story set, wasn’t a music video? Certainly the Beatles’ movies contained music videos within the plotlines to support record releases, too; but we are talking TV here, not on the big screen.

Music videos in the boomer years were often promotional in nature. Bands in the 1950s and later released them to TV programs around the globe in regions where they weren’t able to tour in person. Others were not intended for public consumption, but found their way to local stations looking to attract a young audience.

Here are just a few early examples:

The Big Bopper– Chantilly Lace (1959)
Many rock historians (and NPR) point to The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson) as the father of modern music videos. He is also credited with coining the phrase, “music video,” in an interview with an English magazine in 1958.

The Animals — The House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Gary Burdon stared directly at the camera several times in this video, and the band even moved around a little at one point. Of course, like many TV performances, there is not a cord in sight; the instruments are not plugged in. But with several camera angles, a minimal set design, and a moving camera, this was an early music video.

Martha and the Vandelas — Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide (1964)
Motown filmed the group singing inside a Ford factory in Detroit.

Bob Dylan — Subterranean Homesick Blues (1965)
This “video” was actually the opening sequence of a documentary called Don’t Look Back by D.A. Pennebake, about Dylan’s first tour in England. What is so memorable about it now is how Dylan, standing in an alley, flips cards with words from the song on them. This scenario has been imitated hundreds of times since by bands of all types.

The Beatles released many promotional videos, including Strawberry Fields, Paperback Writer, Rain, Day Tripper, We Can Work It Out, Penny Lane and many more. Their video for Something (1969) featured them with their wives!

David Bowie was also an early-adopter, releasing the video for Space Oddity in 1969.

The Monkees — TV Show (1966-68)
Like The Beatles and Elvis before them, the show was basically a promotion for their records. Each episode introduced their new music in a video within the plot. The difference was, this was made for TV.

The Rolling Stones — We Love You (1967)
This song was the B side of Dandelion in the U.S., but it was the A-side in England. The video, like many of the Beatles’ videos, was a mini-movie in and of itself, purported to be a re-enactment of the 1895 trial of Oscar Wilde. You’ve got to see it to believe it, then you’ll say, “yeah, that was 1967 all right”:

Once you go down that road and search for these early music videos, you’ll see how much influence they had on the next generation that appeared on MTV.

How about you, boomers? Do you recall watching music videos 50-60 years ago?