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Op-ed: The Everly Brothers set the gold standard for vocal harmony in rock ’n’ roll

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03.09.2021

Last month, two legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Famers died within days of each other: Charlie Watts and Don Everly. Of the two, Watts, drummer and backbone of the Rolling Stones since the early 1960s, received much greater coverage. Watts was unquestionably a talented and reliable drummer. Like Ringo Starr, he was the perfect man for his band — a model of stability among mercurial musical geniuses.

But despite receiving less attention upon his death, Don Everly was far more influential in the history of popular music. He and his younger brother, Phil, performed as the Everly Brothers, and while their music is not as popular today as that of the Rolling Stones, they established the bench mark for vocal harmony in rock ’n’ roll by which all others would be measured — unquestionably the greatest harmony duo in rock ’n’ roll, possibly in any musical genre.

Bob Dylan said: “We owe these guys everything. They started it all.”

Linda Ronstadt, who covered their 1960 classic “When Will I Be Loved,” explained the uniqueness of their sound: “They had that sibling sound. The information of your DNA is carried in your voice, and you can get a sound (with family) that you never get with someone who’s not blood-related to you. And they were both such good singers — they were one of the foundations, one of the cornerstones of the new rock ’n’ roll........

© Chicago Tribune


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