Phil Everly, who with his brother Don set a standard for rock 'n' roll harmony that has not yet been matched, died Friday in Burbank after a long battle against chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 74.
His wife Patti told the Los Angeles Times he contracted the disease from a lifetime of smoking.
The Everly Brothers were the only group among the first inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
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Phil Everly and wife Patti attend the ‘We're All For The Hall’ benefit concert for the Country Music Hall of Fame at the Sommet Center on Oct. 13, 2009, in Nashville, Tenn.
They scored 37 chart singles, all but one in the 1950s and 1960s, and an exceptional percentage of those hits became classics, including "Wake Up Little Susie," "When Will I Be Loved," "All I Have To Do Is Dream," "Cathy's Clown" and "Let It Be Me."
Their songs have been remade hundreds of times over the years, by artists as diverse as Linda Ronstadt, Connie Smith and Christine Lavin.
Don and Phil Everly perform live onstage at a reunion concert. Their fractious offstage relationship kept them from singing together for almost a decade.
Their deceptively simple harmonies, rooted in the folk music of their native Kentucky, influenced hundreds of harmony groups that followed, starting with the Beatles, the Beach Boys and Simon & Garfunkel.
Brenda Lee (second from right) holds the microphone for Phil Everly (right) as members of the Country Music Hall of Fame take the stage and sing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" at the hall of fame and museum on Sunday, May 6, 2007, in Nashville, Tenn. Also shown are Little Jimmie Dickens (left), Porter Wagoner (second from left), and George Jones (third from left).
When the Everlys fell out of radio favor in the mid-1960s -- pushed aside, ironically, by British groups that adored them -- both brothers increasingly began to tire of being known as a rock 'n' roll nostalgia act.
During what was billed as their farewell concert, in 1973 at Knott's Berry Farm, Phil stormed offstage and for the next decade the two rarely spoke.
Simon joked about this estrangement when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, saying there could be a whole separate wing for acts that didn't speak to each other.
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Phil Everly supports Simon & Garfunkel's second of two U.K. gigs on July 15, 2004 in Hyde Park, London.
Phil and Don continued performing solo for the next decade and agreed to a reunion in 1983.
That sparked a comeback that yielded two high-quality albums and their final chart hit, "On the Wings of a Nightingale," written by Paul McCartney.
Phil and Don Everly arrive in London from New York to begin their European tour on April 1, 1960. Their songs have been remade hundreds of times over the years, by artists as diverse as Linda Ronstadt, Connie Smith and Christine Lavin.
McCartney had paid tribute to the Everlys years earlier by including them in his Wings hit "Uncle Albert."
The Everlys would continue performing on and off for years, though they made it clear they were tired of the music business. One of their stipulations for the Simon & Garfunkel tour was that they wouldn't have to talk to the media.
Phil Everly (left) performs with Chris Isaak during a concert celebrating Buddy Holly's music and legacy at The Music Box Theatre on Sept. 7, 2011, in Hollywood, Calif. Everly died Friday at age 74.
Phil was born toward the end of the Depression, two years after Don. Their parents, Ike and Margaret Everly, were well-known country musicians and both boys grew up singing.
They made their debut on radio station KMA in Shenandoah, Iowa, when Phil was 4, and became regulars in the family act.
Don and Phil Everly in 1960. Their deceptively simple harmonies, rooted in the folk music of their native Kentucky, influenced hundreds of harmony groups, including the Beatles.
They started shopping for a recording contract when they were teenagers. At Acuff-Rose publishing they met Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, who had just finished "Bye Bye Love."
The Everlys recorded it in early 1957 for Cadence Records, a label known for everything except rock 'n' roll. It reached No. 2 on the charts and launched a long relationship between the Everlys and the Bryants.
Other Bryant hits for the Everlys included "Wake Up Little Susie," "Devoted to You," "Problems" and "All I have To Do is Dream."
While some of the Brothers' hits were uptempo, they never crossed into the rockabilly sound that was popular in the late 1950s, sticking closer to their folk harmony roots.
At one point they recorded an album of traditional folk tunes called "Songs Our Daddy Taught Us."
They did record one song that became controversial: "Ebony Eyes," one of the popular tragedy ballads of the era in which a soldier waiting for his fiancé learns she was killed in a plane crash en route to their wedding.
Some radio stations declined to play it. But that didn't keep the Everly Brothers from remaining one of the most played and most enduring acts of rock 'n' roll's first decade.
In addition to his wife, Phil Everly is survived by Don, his mother Margaret, and two sons, Jason and Chris. Services will be private.