One-half of the Everly Brothers is gone now. Phil and Don sang the songs many of us remember from childhood, and with the passing of Phil another chapter in the history of rock ’n’ roll ends.
A good number of the Everly Brothers’ hit songs were written by a Georgian, Boudleaux Bryant, and his wife, Felice. I used to live in the town where Bryant went to school, and early on I heard about the famous song-writing couple, who wrote Bye Bye, Love; All I Have to Do Is Dream; Take a Message to Mary; Rocky Top and numerous other songs for many country and popular music acts.
A side note: Among their hits for the Everlys was Wake Up, Little Susie, and on the Web site for the Moultrie-Colquitt County Chamber of Commerce is a notation that “Little Susie” is Boudleaux Bryant’s niece, also from Moultrie. It says she became a doctor and moved to Michigan.
Like many of the people who sang their songs, the Bryants are long gone. One of the two Righteous Brothers. Johnny Cash and June Carter. Frank Zappa, Patsy Cline, John Denver. A big chunk of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Half of the Mamas and both of the Papas. One third of Peter, Paul and Mary. Not just Ricky Nelson but also the entire Nelson family: Ozzie, Harriet and David.
Elvis has left the building.
So many of the singers I grew up hearing on AM stations or my friends’ record players are gone. Some too early, some by accident, others from abusing their bodies, more still from the rigors of age – but all of them are missed.
Atop any list of the missing in rock ’n’ roll action is half of The Beatles. Next month will mark 50 years since the Fab Four invaded America and performed on Ed Sullivan’s really big show. Can that be possible: a half-century of The Beatles?
As a kid, I learned of the group earlier than that, sometime in 1963 on an evening television report by CBS News.
I remember their hair, their suits, their drum kit. The band’s name didn’t stay with me, but when their first songs released in this country went to the top of the charts, their sound came back.
My parents didn’t share my interest in this new music – no more than they had the Everly Brothers’ sound.
I wasn’t allowed to grow long hair, and they were such a culture shock that I had nightmares in which The Beatles visited our house, only to have my mother drag out the clippers and shear their locks.
After them, more British followed. Then American groups took up the beat. Even though these musicians and singers were decades ahead in experience and talent, they became like friends to us.
The pioneers began falling almost as soon as rock was born. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper brought death home to us in a big way. John Lennon’s assassination shocked us. Now, as the years pass, every day the music dies a little bit.