Everly Brothers’ Don Everly, Early Rock Pioneer, Dead at 84

Don Everly, half of one of rock’s earliest and most influential harmony groups, the Everly Brothers, died Saturday in his Nashville home at the age of 84. A rep for the singer confirmed his death to the Los Angeles Times. A cause of death was not immediately known.

“Don lived by what he felt in his heart,” Everly’s family said in a statement to the Times. “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.”

Starting with 1957’s “Bye Bye Love” and continuing for five more years, the Everlys ruled the pop and country charts with 15 Top 10 hits, including “Wake Up Little Susie,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” and “When Will I Be Loved.” Although many of their songs were written by outside writers, Don, the more prolific of the duo, penned three of their finest songs: the rollicking “Cathy’s Clown,” “(‘Til) I Kissed You” and the forlorn “So Sad (to Watch Good Love Go Bad).” In most cases, Don sang lead, with Phil’s wispier, more velvety harmonies wrapping around his brother’s.

The resulting blend, steeped in country music, Appalachia, and early rock & roll, impacted on nearly every harmony-based band that followed, including the Beatles, the Mamas and the Papas, the Hollies and Simon & Garfunkel. But the Everlys’ influenced never waned. The brothers were among the first acts inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. In 2013, just a few months before Phil Everly’s death in January 2014 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones released a collection of Everly covers in honor of the brothers.