1957. I remember hunching over the radio, my 11-year-old ears being sucked into the sound of the unka-chunka acoustic-guitar intro of “Bye Bye Love.” After that came those voices with traces of Hank Williams’ vibrato, the Blue Sky Boys’ old-timey duet and the sibling sound that can be achieved only in the presence of similar genetic coding and matching regional accents.
“Who are these guys?” I remember thinking. It was the Everly Brothers, two hugely gifted individuals with the audacity to weld traditional Kentucky harmonies to rock ‘n’ roll and blast a trail through to the folk rock of the late ’60s and beyond. The younger brother Phil was 74 when we lost him on Jan. 3.
Artists who swam in their wake, absorbing their influence, include Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, the Beatles, Peter and Gordon, the Byrds and the Eagles–on down to current chart toppers Mumford & Sons. Oh, and happily, me, who recorded a hit version of Phil Everly’s “When Will I Be Loved” in 1974.
Ronstadt is a 10-time Grammy Award winner. Her memoir, Simple Dreams, was published in September
This appears in the January 20, 2014 issue of TIME.
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