Musicians pay tribute to rock n' roll icon Don Everly, who has died age 84

Don Everly
Inductee Don Everly speaks during the 2019 Musicians Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Concert at Schermerhorn Symphony Center on October 22, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee (Image credit: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)

Don Everly passed away at home in Nashville Tennessee at the age of 84 on Saturday 21 August and the music world has paid tribute to the Everly Brothers country-rock singer, guitarist and songwriter.

A representative from the Everly family issued a statement on his passing to the Los Angeles Times, writing, "Don lived by what he felt in his heart. Don expressed his appreciation for the ability to live his dreams... with his soulmate and wife, Adela, and sharing the music that made him an Everly Brother." A cause of death has not been given at this time.

Don's younger brother and musical partner Phil Everly passed away from lung disease in 2014, age 74. The duo had 35 Billboard Top 100 singles during their musical career – the record for any duo. Their intuitive harmonies and rhythm guitar playing became a winning combination of songs including Bye Bye Love, All I Have To Do Is Dream, Cathy's Clown, I Kissed You, Walk Right Back, When Will I Be Loved, Devoted To You, Walk Right Back and Crying In The Rain.

The duo enjoyed great success with 29 of their singles charting in the top 40 and a number of their hits were interpretations written by other songwriters, Don penned some of their most popular songs with (Till) I Kissed You, So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad), Cathy's Clown and wrote Gone, Gone Gone with his brother. 

During his lifetime, Keith Richards called Don "one of the finest rhythm players" and Paul Simon – who collaborated with the duo on the title track from his Graceland album – hailed the Everly Brothers' legacy in 2014. "Phil and Don were the most beautiful sounding duo I ever heard," he said. "Both voices pristine and soulful. The Everlys were there at the crossroads of country and R&B. They witnessed and were part of the birth of rock and roll."

Following Don's passing, more icons have been quick to share such sentiments. 

"God bless Don and Phil the Everly brothers we loved them peace and love," wrote Ringo Starr on Twitter.

"We have now lost Don Everly," said Nancy Sinatra. "Touring with Phillip and Donald was literally thrilling. To have the privilege of singing with their breathtaking iconic voices was one of the great gifts of my career. Godspeed, Donald. I love you."

The Everlys' rock n' roll peer Jerry Lee Lewis commented, "The Everly Brothers are integral to the fabric of American music.

"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."

Sir Time Rice Tweeted his own personal tribute; "RIP Don Everly. No singers of my schooldays meant more to me than the Everly Brothers. To quote one of their great hits (which Don wrote) - So Sad."

Throughout their careers, Don and Phil had used Gibson J-200s with custom dual pickguards but in 1962 received the Gibson Everly Brothers Flattop. It featured thin J-185-style body and an adjustable bridge, along with star-shaped inlays and, again, the double pickguard. Although available in Sunburst and natural, the standard finish and the one favoured by the brothers was Black. 

Although discontinued in 1972 before a reissue in the 80s, it's proved popular with a number of artists including Jimmy Page, Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. 

Another influential guitarist, Dave Davies, recalled the influence the Everlys had on him with his tribute to Don on Twitter. "Very sad day," said The Kinks member. "Both of the Everlys were part of my musical life growing up. We were inspired by their wonderful records and their singing and their voices. Wake Up Little Suzie was my favorite as a kid"

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.