When Phil Everly died on Friday, his passing gave birth to a surprising number of public expressions of grief, gratitude and admiration from a diverse group of musicians.
The Everly Brothers were no doubt instrumental in the advent of rock ‘n’ roll, but their influence spread over genre boundaries unlike any other act of their time. With their tightly woven sweet harmonies and poppy melodies, it doesn’t exactly seem likely that punk rock pioneer Iggy Pop would find much common ground with them, but the singer was just one of many paying tribute to the man.
“God bless Phil Everly,” wrote Iggy Pop on MusicVice.com. “The Everlys were the real deal when it comes to American music. I saw them in the ’60s at the 20 Grand in Detroit, and they seriously rocked the huge house, with just two Gibson Jumbos, and their voices. And man, did these guys have cool haircuts. I bought ‘Songs Our Daddy Taught Us’ on download recently and there’s a whole life lesson in there. It’s brothers like the Everlys, that make the music scene of today worth bothering with. I am in their debt like so many others, for they have enriched my life.”
Norah Jones, who in 2013 released “Foreverly,” an album of Everly Brother covers with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, said in a statement to Rolling Stone that “the high harmonies Phil sang were fluid and so beautiful and always sound effortless in a way that just washes over the listener. He was one of our greats and it’s very sad to lose him.”
Even the metal community grieved for Everly’s passing. Dave Mustaine of Megadeth wrote on his Facebook page that when he collaborated with Cleartone Strings to release a signature brand of guitar strings, one of the main reasons was the company’s owner.
“It is with great sadness that I just learned music legend Phil Everly has passed away,” he wrote. “Since joining his Cleartone String Company, one of the things I looked forward to most was meeting him. My sympathies to the family.”
Queen guitarist Brian May took to his website at 3 a.m. after learning the news. “I feel like a huge piece of my youth just melted away,” he wrote. “I loved, loved those guys, and still do. From the Everly Brothers I learned to play rhythm guitar (a lot of people don’t have that experience these days), and I learned every note of both parts they sang.”
But the most moving tribute came from the other Everly Brother, Don Everly, who notoriously had a tumultuous relationship with his brother that involved many fights, both onstage and off.
“I was listening to one of my favorite songs that Phil wrote and had an extreme emotional moment just before I got the news of his passing,” Don Everly wrote in a statement to Associated Press. “I took that as a special spiritual message from Phil saying goodbye. Our love was and will always be deeper than any earthly differences we might have had.”