Rock'n'roll pioneer Don Everly dead at 84

Don Everly in 1971
Don Everly in 1971 (Image credit: Gijsbert Hanekroot/Getty Images)

Don Everly, one half of pioneering rock'n'rollers the Everly Brothers, has died at the age of 84.

"Don lived by what he felt in his heart," said a statement released by Everly's family. "Don expressed his appreciation for the ability to live his dreams... living in love with his soul mate and wife Adela, and sharing the music that made him an Everly Brother. Don always expressed how grateful he was for his fans."

Everly was born in Brownie, Kentucky, in 1937, and formed the Everly Brothers with his sibling Phil in 1956. They went on to have hits with Bye Bye Love, Wake Up Little Susie, All I Have to Do Is Dream and Cathy's Clown, and were an influence on a generation of musicians including The Beatles and the Beach Boys.

"My absolute favourite harmonies came from the Everly Brothers, Don and Phil, Graham Nash told Classic Rock in 2018. "I first saw them in Manchester in 1960. Allan [Clarke, fellow Hollies founder] and I were determined to meet them so we waited outside the Midland Hotel until 1:20am. We had missed the last bus home but did not care. 

"We met them, blubbering to them about how Allan and I would someday love to be making records. The lads were very accommodating to us. I have a cassette of the Evs’ singing So Sad with me adding my harmony live on stage. What a memory for me."

The Everly Brothers broke up in 1973, but reformed a decade later, and in 1986 they were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. They would continue to tour up until the mid-2000s. Don Everly's daughter, Erin, was briefly married to Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose, and was the inspiration behind Sweet Child O' Mine.  

"The Everly Brothers are integral to the fabric of American music," said Jerry Lee Lewis 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."

A cause of death has not yet been announced. Phil Everly passed away in 2014.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.