After a decade of estrangement, the Everly Brothers chose the Royal Albert Hall in London as the venue for their historic reunion concert on September 22, 1983. It was an unforgettable evening, all tensions seemingly resolved as the harmonies soared once again on all those great hits of the ’50s and ’60s. Phil died in 2014, aged 74. Now Don has gone, too, at 84. Here’s how I reported the reunion concert in The Times, with a wonderful photograph by Nobby Clark.
It was thanks to Perry Como that I first glimpsed the Everly Brothers, singing “Bird Dog” on his TV show in 1959. Matching suits and ties, the kind of perfect quiffs a schoolboy in England could only dream of achieving, and those magnificent Gibson J-180 jumbos. That riff, those voices. They seemed to have come from outer space.
In 1983 I was at the Albert Hall to see them reunite after 10 years of estrangement. It was a famous occasion, and you can find bits of the film on YouTube. Just watch them sing “Let It Be Me”, the final song, to each other. It was, and is, spine-tingling.
Phil died yesterday, aged 74. Don, two years older, has been quoted as saying that he had expected to go first. So another great figure from rock and roll’s early days has left the scene, and there won’t be any more of those glorious two-part harmonies.
I met Phil in the early Seventies, around the time of Pass the Chicken and Listen, the last album the brothers made before falling out, at a time when when they were hopelessly unfashionable. He was friendly and open and I liked him a lot. A few years later he made a single in London with Cliff Richard called “She Means Nothing to Me”, produced by Stuart Colman and with Mark Knopfler on guitar. It’s a record I’ve always loved, and another great way to remember him.
The title of this blog is taken from my book The Blue Moment, published by Faber & Faber in 2009, in which I tried to look at how Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue had influenced half a century of modern music, from La Monte Young and Terry Riley through James Brown, John Cale and Brian Eno to Arve Henriksen and the Necks.