September 1st 2001


Grand Finale?

Everlys give last homecoming performance (maybe)

 2 September 2001

By David Blackburn
Messenger-Inquirer (www.messenger-inquirer.com)


Friday night's Everly Brothers Homecoming XIV that highlights the annual Central City Music Festival was the finale for the Brownie-born duo.


"It's matured enough where they don't need us," Phil Everly said at a news conference at the Central City Elementary School gym prior to the benefit concert that drew a crowd estimated by Kentucky State Police at 11,000 people.

But while Everly plans to attend future homecomings as a spectator, he didn't rule out a curtain call, either with him and/or brother Don playing master of ceremonies or performing only with guitars.

"Anything like that is likely," he said.

Homecoming XIV

Phil Everly, left, waves to a group of fans while he and brother Don Everly open their set in the Everly Brothers' Homecoming XIV Saturday night in Central City. Approximately 11,000 attended the music festival, which could be the last for the duo. Photo by Bryan Leazenby, M-I

The brothers cited the rigors and logistics of touring with a full band, some members of which live in England, as reasons for ending one-night performances such as the local concert.

"You miss home when you're not there," said Phil Everly, adding that they will continue to tour such places as Las Vegas and possibly record.

"We're not retiring in the sense of we're not making music," he said. "We're going to slow it down to a crawl."

Dean Rowe, the publicity chairman for the Everly Brothers Foundation, was unsure of the impact the brothers' absence will make on future events.

"When they're not associated with the event, we certainly have to work harder to make the event successful," Rowe said after the news conference.

"They've got an open invitation any time they want to be part of it," he said.

Don Everly did not attend the news conference, but fellow performers Keith Urban and Hobie Hubbard of Sawyer Brown did. Both praised the Everly Brothers' harmonies.

"This is an incredible honor. There is no way I can tell you how much your music has meant for every one of us," said Hubbard, whose band is finishing its 18th album for a 2002 release.

"I've grown up listening to your music," said the Australian-born Urban, whose "Where the Highway Ends" was No. 3 this past week on the country music charts. He won a Grammy as Best New Male Vocalist earlier this year.

Homecoming XIV

Sean Weaver, left, is congratulated by Phil Everly after Weaver played a few riffs on his guitar backstage at the homecoming Saturday night in Central City. Weaver of Olympia, Wash., won both the Thumbpicking and Open Guitar competitions in last week's Home of the Legends International Thumbpicking Contest in Greenville, and got to play a couple tunes for the crowd before the Everlys took the stage. Photo by Bryan Leazenby, M-I

Younger fans cleared out much of the Urban and Sawyer Brown souvenirs, but it was the Everlys' fans that bought all of the brothers' compact discs and tapes in less than 30 minutes Friday afternoon, said Bonnie Richey, the foundation's souvenirs chairman.

"Your Everly Brothers fans were here early," Richey said.

And what they heard later as the sun set and full moon rose on the school's activities field and nearby hillside were tight, clear harmonies that made the Everlys international stars 45 years ago.

Their 55-minute set, with them standing side-by-side in front of a Y-shaped microphone stand, covered hits that put them atop the rock-and-roll, R-&-B and pop charts in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Starting with "Green River," they performed "When Will I Be Loved?", a song written by Phil Everly; "Bye Bye, Love," their first big hit in 1957 that Don said "got us off the streets of Nashville and on the road"; and two-million sellers "Cathy's Clown" and "All I Have To Do Is Dream."

"Wake Up, Little Susie" energized the crowd, who sang the "ooo-la-la" chorus, and led to the first of several standing ovations. "Let It Be Me," a song by the late Chet Atkins that Don said was their favorite and most-requested ballad, was dedicated to Atkins, their first publisher.

That the brothers left the stage possibly for the last time as performers also left some fans saddened.

"We were devastated," said longtime fan Scott Kelly of Ontario, Canada, of his learning from the Everly Brothers' Web site that this would be their final performance. "I was weaned on Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers."

"It's sad that this era is coming to an end," said Kelly's wife, Colleen. "We hope they will change their minds." 

Everlys' Fan Night makes its final note

Thirteenth event is the last one, organizers say

 31 August 2001

By David Blackburn
Messenger-Inquirer (www.messenger-inquirer.com)

POWDERLY -- Word that this year's Everly Brothers Homecoming might be the last one with Phil and Don performing prompted two foreign fans to finally come to the brothers' home.

But for Anneke Drese of Australia and Suki Wescott of England, the venture to the Muhlenberg County Everly Brothers Fan Club's Fan Night on Thursday was bittersweet.

They were among the 125 people in the Muhlenberg County Agriculture and Convention Center who uttered a collective groan when it was announced the 13th Fan Night will also be the last.

"I especially came here for this," Drese said of Fan Night and the concert on Saturday. Having heard this might be the Everlys' last go-round, "I thought I'd go over."

"I always wanted to come, and since it was going to be the last one . . . " Wescott said, shrugging her shoulders. The concert "was the reason I came in."

Marilyn Kirtley, club president and organizer, said the decision was made to end Fan Night because the fans, especially the three dozen or so from overseas, won't be back if the Everlys aren't performing.

"It's sad for me," Kirtley said before the auction. "I've been doing this for 13 years."

"We hope the day will come where we will all get together again," she told the crowd.

Diana Sue Taylor of Bremen, a first cousin of the Everlys, said she was not surprised at the Everlys' decision to cut back on performing at the Homecoming.

"I'm sure they're getting tired," she said.

Taylor, like most of those at Thursday's gathering, chatted with fellow fans, took pictures and shared photos and other memorabilia.

Being a cousin, though, she had a more extensive collection. A small photo album included baby pictures of the brothers and family members, as well as a card announcing the Jan. 19, 1939, birth of 7-pound, 10 3/4-ounce Philip.

Others, like Linda Atwell of Indianapolis, brought albums to donate to the auction. Among them were two Everly Brothers albums, four solo albums by Phil and two by Don -- the titles of which Atwell rattled off by memory.

Atwell, who became a fan in 1980 by listening to a friend's albums, has attended every Fan Night and concert.

"I belonged to the national fan club in 1988," Atwell said. "They asked me to come down and help (with the first homecoming).

"We wound up in a truck full of balloons in the parade," she said, chuckling at the memory.

Drese, 55, became a fan listening to the neighbors' Everly Brothers albums as a child in Holland, where they were the most popular group in the late 1950s and early 1960s, she said. "Bird Dog" is one of the first songs she remembers from her childhood.

"I wanted to do this for years," Drese said of coming to Muhlenberg County. Her visit was prompted by a documentary about the brothers and their traveling back to Kentucky. "I thought, 'One day, I'd like to go there.' "

Wescott, a member of a British fan club who saw the brothers in a 1993 concert in England, became a fan listening to her parents' tapes.

"I've been listening to them since I was a kid," said Wescott, 24.

"It's great," she said of the Fan Night crowd and Everly Brothers Homecoming Week.

Nathan Chowning thought so, too, of his first Homecoming in 1999, mainly because of "how friendly everybody was."

And that was before people found out the 15-year-old Lancaster resident portrayed a 9-year-old Phil Everly during a 1998 production of "Bye Bye, Love: The Everly Brothers Musical" at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

"We didn't know what to expect," Chowning said about him and his parents, Bud and Donna Chowning. The family is attending its third straight Homecoming.

Nathan Chowning later sang "Devoted to You," this year's Fan Night theme, and "Dream" playing a guitar he used in the musical.

At his urging, "Dream" became a sing-along. Most smiled as they sang the plaintive tune, not even needing to see the words they knew by heart.