Iconic Superstar Phil Everly Dead At Age 74

Phil Everly

Phil Everly

Phil Everly, one of the most influential singers and songwriters in modern music history, has died.
As the high-harmony voice in The Everly Brothers, he co-created a body of work that has become timeless. The Everlys are members of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Their work influenced The Beatles, The Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel, The Hollies and virtually every other harmony-singing group since the 1950s. They were among the first to take Nashville music around the world.
Phil Everly, born in 1939, and his older brother Don Everly, born in 1937, were the sons of country radio entertainers Ike and Margaret Everly. The brothers began singing with their parents as children and were regulars on radio by 1949. During his radio debut at age 6, Phil was billed as “Baby Boy Phil.”
Ike Everly was a guitarist of great skill and became friends with fellow country guitarist Chet Atkins. Atkins took the boys under his wing in 1954 and urged them to move to Nashville. Guided by Atkins, the Everlys recorded as a country act for Columbia Records in 1955. The resulting discs went nowhere.
Publisher Wesley Rose took the duo to Cadence Records in 1957. He signed the Everlys as songwriters to Acuff-Rose Publishing and introduced them to the songs of the company’s Boudleaux & Felice Bryant. With Atkins by their side in the studio, the team recorded the Bryants’ “Bye Bye Love” in a rockabilly style. The record became a country and pop smash and led to cast membership at the Grand Ole Opry.
The Everly Brothers (L: Phil, R: Don)

The Everly Brothers (L: Phil, R: Don)

Hitting the road on rock ‘n’ roll package shows made the Everlys’ Opry tenure a brief one. In 1957-60, they issued the rocking “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Claudette,” “Problems” and “Poor Jenny,” as well as such enduring ballads as “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” “Devoted to You” and “Let It Be Me.”
Both brothers developed as songwriters. Phil Everly’s rocking “When Will I Be Loved” was a hit for the duo in 1960. It has since been revived by dozens of artists, including Linda Ronstadt (1975), Vince Gill (1994) and Fleetwood Mac (1995).
When The Everly Brothers signed with Warner Bros. Records in 1960, it marked the first million-dollar recording contract in history. During the next five years, the team racked up such hits as “Cathy’s Clown,” “So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad),” “Walk Right Back,” “Ebony Eyes,” “Stick With Me Baby,” “Crying in the Rain,” “That’s Old Fashioned” and their co-written “Gone, Gone, Gone.” Both “Stick With Me Baby” and “Gone, Gone, Gone” were revived in 2007 by Alison Krauss & Robert Plant.
Don and Phil Everly also co-wrote 1965’s “The Price of Love.” Like many of their songs, it became a huge hit in England. It has since been recorded by The Move, The Status Quo, Bryan Ferry, Poco, Roxy Music, BR5-49, Buddy Miller and more.
Over the years, the Everly hit catalog has been re-recorded by hundreds of artists. Emmylou Harris, Connie Smith, Tanya Tucker, Gram Parsons, NRBQ, Webb Pierce, The Who, Ricky Skaggs, Don Gibson, Del Shannon, Anne Murray, The Searchers, Reba McEntire, Pat Boone, Hank Williams Jr., Mott the Hoople, Steve Wariner, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, John Prine, The Ventures and Bob Dylan have all sung their songs. The current album by Billy Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones is a re-creation of the 1958 Everly Brothers album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.
Phil Everly & son, Jason

Phil Everly and son Jason

The widely acclaimed 1969 LP Roots brought the duo back into the spotlight, and they starred in a 1970 TV series that was the summer replacement for The Johnny Cash Show. The brothers split up in 1973.
Phil Everly issued such critically applauded solo albums as 1973’s Star Spangled Springer. Produced by Duane Eddy, that collection introduced “The Air That I Breathe,” later a hit for The Hollies. Phil’s Diner (1974), Mystic Line (1975, featuring Warren Zevon), Living Alone (1979) and Phil Everly (1983) were all largely comprised of his original songs. The last named contained “She Means Nothing to Me” as a duet with British pop superstar Cliff Richard.
After a decade apart, The Everly Brothers reunited in 1983. Three albums for Mercury Records featured contributions from such admirers as Paul McCartney, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Jeff Lynne, Mark Knopfler and Albert Lee. Six singles from those LPs made the country charts, including McCartney’s “On the Wings of a Nightingale” and the 1986 hit “Born Yesterday.” They appeared in Nashville at Fan Fair in 1988. A year later, their version of Jack Clement’s “Ballad of a Teenage Queen,” recorded with Johnny and Rosanne Cash, was nominated for a CMA Award.
The Everly Brothers became inaugural inductees into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, which is also the year they were given a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They were given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. Their induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame occurred in 2001, as did both brothers’ election to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The Associated Press reported Phil Everly’s death on Friday night, Jan. 3. He died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at age 74 in Burbank, CA.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.
The Everly Brothers performing on the 1970 Johnny Cash summer replacement show.

The Everly Brothers performing on the 1970 Johnny Cash summer replacement show.

LifeNotes: George A. Collier Passes

george collier

George Collier

Industry veteran and Philadelphia native George A. Collier died Saturday, Dec. 21 in Nashville. He was 69. Collier, a 45-year industry veteran, most recently served as President at Aspirion Records. During his career, Collier spent time in marketing and promotions with Decca, MCA, Atlantic and Arista labels.
Collier’s funeral was held Saturday, Dec. 28 at Woodlawn-Roesch Patton Funeral Home. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Diane M. Collier; children, Diane M. (Eric) Jensen, George A. Collier, Jr., Susan L. Collier and Deborah A. (David) Kirby; grandchildren, Jason Parra, Steven Jensen, Andrew Jensen, Lexus Kirby and D.J. Kirby; brother, William G. Collier.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests with gratitude that memorial contributions be directed to the National Kidney Foundation at www.kidney.org

LifeNotes: Steel Guitar Great Laid To Rest

Johnny Sibert

Johnny Sibert

Steel Guitar Hall of Fame member Johnny Sibert was buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park on Monday, Dec. 30, following graveside services.
The gifted and humble steel-guitar legend died at age 80 on Dec. 21, following years of declining health. He was best known as being a key component of the classic country sound of Carl Smith.
Sibert was born in Indianapolis but was raised in Music City. He began attending Grand Ole Opry shows as a boy and was inspired to learn to play steel guitar at age 14. His career began when he joined the Radio Playboys band of Big Jeff Bess. The group performed regularly on Nashville’s WLAC radio.
Future Country Music Hall of Fame member Carl Smith (1927-2010) heard Sibert on the radio and invited him to audition for his band, The Tunesmiths. The steel guitarist became a member of Smith’s group in 1951 when he was just 17 years old.
Sibert’s playing can be heard on such big Carl Smith hits as “Are You Teasing Me” (1952), “Hey Joe” (1953), “Loose Talk” (1954) and “There She Goes” (1955). He also played on such hits as Little Jimmy Dickens’ “Out Behind the Barn” (1954) and Kitty Wells’ “Heartbreak U.S.A.” (1961), as well as on records by Johnnie & Jack, Lefty Frizzell, The Everly Brothers, Carl Butler, The Maddox Brothers & Rose, June Carter, Freddie Hart, The Collins Kids and Rosemary Clooney.
After a stint in Kitty Wells’ band in 1959-60, he returned to Smith as the star’s bandleader, 1961-69. Sibert reportedly grew tired on life on the road and quit the group thereafter. By the mid-1970s, he’d put his instruments aside and had given up music entirely.
He became a longtime security guard at The Tennessean newspaper beginning in 1977. He was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1998.
In later years, he became a mentor to Chris Scruggs, whose playing style closely emulates Sibert’s. Scruggs is now a leading figure in Nashville’s Americana-music scene. Johnny Sibert retired in 1998. He lived in Smyrna, Tenn.
John Neil Sibert is survived by his son, John Devin Sibert; brother Roger Paul Sibert and grandchild Kelsey Pagen Sibet.

LifeNotes: Bradley 'Slim' Williamson

Dad w Ronnie McDowell

Pictured (L-R): Ronnie McDowell and Slim Williamson

Bradley “Slim” Williamson, of Jefferson, Ga., died Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. He was 86.
Williamson is the father of Starstruck executive Cliff Williamson. Williamson developed one of Country’s first major independent labels, Chart Records, which was founded in 1964. Williamson was credited with discovering Lynn Anderson, Junior Samples, and Ronnie McDowell, among others, and produced numerous Top 10 records on the charts during the ’60s and ’70s.
He also developed publishing companies including Yonah Music, which was later sold to Acuff-Rose Publishing and published songs including Merle Haggard‘s “Strangers” during the course of his career.

[Updated]: Country Singer Wayne Mills Dies After Nashville Shooting

wayne mills

Wayne Mills

[Update]: The memorial service for singer-songwriter Wayne Mills will take place at Arab High School auditorium in Mills’ hometown of Arab, Ala., on Sunday, Dec. 8. Visitation will be held from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the auditorium of Arab High School (511 Arabian Dr., Arab, Ala., 35016). The memorial service will take place at 1:30 p.m., followed by a private burial. Photography and video cameras will not be allowed, and cell phones must be turned off and kept out of view.
• • •
A Nashville Country singer is dead after an apparent altercation outside a Nashville bar. Chris Ferrell, owner of Pit and Barrel bar, told police that he fatally shot Country singer Wayne Mills, 44, in self defense, after the two engaged in an argument as Mills attempted to smoke in a non-smoking area.
Ferrell shot Mills at approximately 5 a.m. on Saturday morning (Nov. 23). Mills later died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
No arrests have been made, and Ferrell possessed a valid gun permit.
Mills, a native of Arab, Ala., performed with the Wayne Mills Band for 15 years. Country entertainers Jamey Johnson and Blake Shelton opened for the band early in their careers, according to the group’s website.
Mills graduated with an education degree from the University of Alabama, where he also played football during his college years.

LifeNotes: Songwriter, Publisher Nelson Larkin Dies

Nelson Larkin

Nelson Larkin

Producer, songwriter and music publisher Nelson Larkin, 70, died Monday (Nov. 18) in Brentwood, Tenn.
Larkin produced many of Earl Thomas Conley‘s 1980s albums, among them 1981’s Fire & Smoke, 1982’s Somewhere Between Right and Wrong, and 1984’s Treadin’ Water. Larkin also produced projects for Toby Keith, Billy Joe Royal, George Jones, Lynn Anderson, and Tracy Lawrence.
He also co-wrote Royal’s Top 5 hit, “I’ll Pin a Note on Your Pillow,” as well as “Searchin’ For Some Kind of Clue” and “Love Has No Right.” He also co-wrote Lawrence’s Top 10 song “Somebody Paints The Wall,” and Keith’s “Life’s A Play (The World A Stage)” from Keith’s Boomtown project.
Larkin’s career also included founding Sunbird Records, serving as president of GRT Records, and helping build Atlantic Records’ Nashville operations. He later directed Famous Music Publishing’s Nashville division.
A celebration of life will take place Thursday, Nov. 21 at 3 p.m. at Brentwood United Methodist Church. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m.

LifeNotes: Sarah Darling's Grandfather Passes

Photo credit: Sara Kauss

Photo credit: Sara Kauss

MusicRow sends its condolences to Country singer Sarah Darling. Darling’s grandfather, Richard Eugene Dicks, died yesterday (Nov. 14).
Darling’s songs “All You’ve Got” and “Knowing What I Know About Heaven” (which was recorded by Guy Penrod), were inspired by her grandfather.
Darling shared her loss with fans via social media, and included photos of her grandfather, along with a written tribute.

LifeNotes: Bob Beckham Passes

Pictured (L-R): Bob Beckham, Johnny "Dog" McRae, Jon Wilson and Steve Singleton

Pictured (L-R): Bob Beckham, Johnny “Dog” McRae, Larry Jon Wilson and Steve Singleton. Photo: Alan Mayor

Pictured (L-R): Rick Blackburn and Bob Beckham

Pictured (L-R): Rick Blackburn and Bob Beckham. Photo: Alan Mayor.

[Update]: Sellars Funeral Home in Mt. Juliet, Tenn. will host a visitation on Wednesday (Nov. 13) 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., with a brief graveside service following. Family asks that donations be sent to Alive Hospice in lieu of flowers.
• • •
Legendary Nashville music publisher Bob Beckham has passed away at age 86.
Beckham discovered singer-songwriter Tony Joe White, among others. He mentored generations of songwriters during his tenure as the head of Combine Music, 1964-1989. Among the composers whose lives he touched are Kris Kristofferson, Larry Gatlin, Bob DiPiero, John Scott Sherrill, Dennis Linde (who became his son-in-law), Dolly Parton, Bob Morrison, Jerry Reed, Billy Swan, Chris Gantry and Johnny MacRae. He also launched the careers of such industry figures as Woody Bomar and Blake Chancey.
His influence was such that in 2008 he was given the very first Mentor Award by the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Nashville Entertainment Association presented him with its Master Award in 1988.
Born Robert Joseph Beckham in Statford, OK, he began entertaining audiences at age 8. He also appeared in several films as a juvenile actor. Following a stint in the army as a paratrooper, he worked as a pop singer.
He signed with Decca Records in Nashville and made the pop charts in 1959-60 with “Just as Much as Ever,” “Crazy Arms” and “Mais Oui.” On the road, he was an opening act for pop superstar Brenda Lee.
When his singing career waned, producer Owen Bradley suggested that Beckham try song publishing. Beckham became the Nashville song plugger for the Atlanta-based Lowery Music in 1961. He next worked for Shelby Singleton Music.
Fred Foster hired Beckham to run Combine Music in 1964. Founded in 1958, it was initially the publishing division of Monument Records. Beckham became president of Combine in 1966.
By the 1970s, Combine was one of Music Row’s major publishing houses. It was notable in that it worked in genres ranging from Arthur Alexander’s r&b songs to Thomas Cain’s gospel works, in addition to pop and country copyrights. He was also shrewd in placing Combine’s copyrights as ad jingles.
After leaving Combine, Bob Beckham founded HoriPro Entertainment in Nashville in 1990. This is a division of Japan’s Taiyo Music, which is that nation’s largest publishing business. Beckham retired in 2006.
He was a master raconteur who kept listeners spellbound during happy-hour sojourns at Maude’s Courtyard, Valentino’s Restaurant and other local watering holes.
Bob Beckham died Monday morning, Nov. 11, at Summit Hospital in Hermitage, TN. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

LifeNotes: Betsy Smittle

Betsy Smittle and Garth Brooks

Betsy Smittle and Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks‘ half sister, Betsy Smittle, passed away Saturday (Nov. 2) in Oklahoma, according to news9.com. She was 60. The bass player performed with her little brother during the early years of his career and released a solo album of her own entitled Rough Around The Edges.
She also sang backing vocals for fellow Oklahoma singer Gus Hardin on her I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can album and was a member of her band during her career.
Ninde Funeral Home is handling funeral arrangements, which are pending.

LifeNotes: Restless Heart's Dave Innis' Mother Passes

Pictured (L-R): Eugene Innis, Betty Innis, Dave Innis.

Pictured (L-R): Eugene Innis, Betty Innis, Dave Innis.

Restless Heart member Dave Innis is mourning the loss of his mother, Betty Innis.
“Always the teacher, Mom taught me to play the piano at age six and instilled in me a deep appreciation for music” says Innis. “She was a faithful supporter of the band and loved to dance with Dad to ‘I’ll Still Be Loving You.’ She was a wonderful mother and a lovely person.”
Betty Eltha Innis died Oct. 9, 2013 at Swedish Medical Center in Denver after suffering a stroke and brief illness. Betty was born on May 10, 1930 in Dodge City, Kan. to Leonard and Eltha Brown of Meade, Kan. She is survived by her husband of 61 years, E. Eugene Innis of Woodland Park, Colo.; two sons, Steve of Dallas, Texas, and David of Franklin, Tenn.; her daughters-in-law, Nancy and Adrienne; two grandchildren, Isom and Isabella, of Los Angeles; brother Philip Brown and sister-in-law, Linda Kaye Brown of Meade; and a sister-in-law, Mary Archer of Houston.
On Oct. 22, Betty will be placed to rest in the Meade, Kan. Graceland Cemetery with a graveside service.