The Beatles’ sound was composed of many influences. Unlike many artists, the Beatles never hesitated to acknowledge the influence. Like we were their fans, they were fans of Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and so on. How they got to their unique sound is a result of having truly internalized those influences. In the many years since their break up with tend to think of the Beatles as songwriters, but the truth is that when they went into record for EMI and George Martin in late 1962 they had barely a handful of songs. Aside from the astonishing fact that over the next 8 years they would write and record so many incredible songs, it is particularly striking in that they had been together in various iterations since 1957. During that time playing in Liverpool and their 4 stints in Hamburg they had spent thousands of hours playing the music they loved. The pressure of the recording contract, the desire to make their mark as songwriters as well as performers, from the very beginning initiated a burst of creativity in which all their influences came together in new and intriguing ways.
Critical to the Beatles’ sound is there vocal harmonies. John, Paul and George sing together on countless songs. I can still remember as a kid what it was like to not to be able to tell them apart. These tight harmonies, often a third apart, that John and Paul sang were influenced in huge way by Phil and Don Everly. The brothers who got their start singing on their Dad’s radio show in Knoxville, Tennessee, were discovered by another one of George’s heroes, Chet Atkins. Both John and Paul were blown away by the Everly’s first two singles, “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie”. John and Paul quickly adopted the close harmony, with Paul taking the upper voice, making these songs and others in their set list pop. The Everly’s had a huge influence on the budding Beatles with a series of chart topping singles through 1962.
“EB 84″ Produced by Dave Edmunds contains a lovely Paul McCartney song entitled “On the Wing’s of a Nightingale” written especially for Phil and Don.
Phil Everly passed away earlier this year. He was 75.
Phil and Don are also mentioned by name in the Wings hit “Let ‘em In”.