How The Everly Brothers repaired their broken relationship after breaking up during a live concert

23 August 2021, 14:37

The Everly Brothers had a very public feud
The Everly Brothers had a very public feud. Picture: Alamy

By Tom Eames

The Everly Brothers produced some of the world's best-loved music in the 1960s and 1970s.

They were incredibly influential on many artists that came after them, including The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel.

Following Don Everly's passing in 2021, tributes have come far and wide now that both brothers are sadly no longer with us.

While the brothers were best known for their stunning harmonies and timeless tracks, they were also known for their very public break-up as a band, and their on-and-off feud that rumbled on until Phil's death in 2014.

But what happened between the pair and did they ever reconcile?

Struggling by the mid-1960s

By the early 1960s, The Everly Brothers had cemented themselves as one of the most popular recording artists in the world.

Their brand of rock and roll and country-pop chimed perfectly with the record-buying public, but various elements had meant that their popularity had waned by the middle of the decade.

The Everly Brothers
The Everly Brothers. Picture: Alamy

Both brothers were enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 1961, taking them out of the spotlight.

While they still sold well in the UK, they stopped having hits in the US after 1963. By 1964, both of the Everlys were addicted to amphetamines.

Don's addiction led him to having a nervous breakdown, causing him to end their British tour. He was replaced by bass playeer Joey Page for a short period.

The British Invasion and the counterculture movement of the 1960s saw their music take a backseat in the States.

A very public split

In 1970, Don released an unsuccessful debut solo album. The brothers began performing again in 1971, releasing two more albums by 1973.

However, the Everlys announced their final performance would take place on July 14, 1973, at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.

The Everly Brothers
The Everly Brothers. Picture: Alamy

Sadly, tensions kept rising between the pair, and Don told a reporter he was tired of being an Everly Brother.

During the show itself, Phil ended up smashing his guitar and walked off stage, leaving Don to finish the show without him, ending their collaboration like that.

The two would not reunite for music for over 10 years.

A long-awaited reunion

For the next 10 years, both brothers released solo material, with mixed success.

But fans were delighted when they announced a reunion concert at London's Royal Albert Hall on September 23, 1983.

Everly Brothers - Til I Kissed You (live 1983) HD 0815007

The reunion was initiated by Phil and Don alongside Terry Slater, with keyboard player Pete Wingfield as musical director.

The concert's programme said at the time: “Fittingly, London’s Royal Albert Hall, site of the reunion, has special significance for the Everlys, for it was there that they last performed with father Ike, who had taught the boys to play guitar and had nurtured their love for music so many years ago.”

The concert was a success, with Phil Everly saying that the reunion was the most memorable moment of his career.

The brothers then returned to the studio for a new album, with a lead single written by Sir Paul McCartney, and returning to the charts.

Teaming up with Simon & Garfunkel

If there was another group who had a similar history to The Everly Brothers, it was Simon & Garfunkel. While not brothers, they were also a duo famed for their beautiful harmonies, and dealt with public feuds and reconcilations.

In 2003 and 2004, the brothers joined Simon & Garfunkel in their Old Friends reunion tour. As a tribute to the Everly Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel opened their show, and had the Everlys come out in the middle of it.

Read more: The extraordinary story of Simon & Garfunkel’s life-long feud

The live album Old Friends: Live on Stage also contains Simon & Garfunkel discussing the Everlys' influence on their career, and features all four of them singing 'Bye Bye Love'.

Their 2004 shows with Simon & Garfunkel proved to be their final shows together.

Simon & Garfunkel with Everly Brothers - Bye Bye Love (New York 2003)

Phil's death: Did they patch things up?

When Phil Everly died in 2014, it had been 10 years since fans got to see them live together.

While some suggested that they were not speaking at the time of Phil's death, Don spoke fondly of his brother.

“He was a great singer, Phil,” Don said. “We did that all our lives - it’s almost like we could read each other’s minds when we sang.”

“I loved my brother very much,” he added. “I always thought I’d be the one to go first.”

"I'm not over it. I really feel sad. I think about him every day. I always thought about him every day, even when we were not speaking to each other. It still just shocks me that he’s gone.”