To put it lightly, when a former Beatle refers to you as one of his “heroes” and says he was “star-struck” when meeting you, that’s saying something. Check out what Sir Paul McCartney wrote on his Facebook page about Phil Everly, the younger half of the Everly Brothers, who passed away last weekend:
“Phil Everly was one of my great heroes. With his brother Don, they were one of the major influences on The Beatles. When John and I first started to write songs, I was Phil and he was Don. Years later when I finally met Phil, I was completely starstruck and at the same time extremely impressed by his humility and gentleness of soul. I will always love him for giving me some of the sweetest musical memories of my life.”
The Everlys’ influence on The Beatles has been well-documented over the years. Later on, in the early 1980’s, Paul McCartney wrote “On the Wings of a Nightengale,” for them, which the brothers recorded on their album EB84. The tune became their first charting song in years.
Since the younger Everly’s death, tributes have been rampant across the Internet as many celebrities took to Twitter to express grief and gratitude—not the least of which came from Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, who recently released an Everly Brothers tribute album with Norah Jones:
The Everly Brothers go way back far as I can remember hearing music. Those harmonies live on forever. We’re gonna miss you Phil. Gratitude.
— Billie Joe Armstrong (@BJAofficial) January 4, 2014
Here are a few others:
Phil Everly is gone. Touring with Phil and Don was one of the thrills of my life. I love you Phillip – Godspeed pic.twitter.com/MJNEDSSw3l
— Nancy Sinatra (@NancySinatra) January 4, 2014
I am so sad to hear of Phil Everly’s passing. I learned how to sing harmony as a kid in the backseat listening to The Everly Bros. R.I.P.
— Michelle Branch (@michellebranch) January 4, 2014
Hearing Phil Everly’s harmonies was transcendent. Wrote “Love Hurts” as a TEENAGER! Goodbye to a master.
— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) January 4, 2014
Shortly after the news of Phil’s death spread through the media, his brother Don released the following statement to People magazine:
“I loved my brother very much. I always thought I’d be the one to go first.
“I was listening to one of my favorite songs that Phil wrote and had an extreme emotional moment just before I got the news of his passing. I took that as a special spiritual message from Phil saying good-bye.
“Our love was and will always be deeper than any earthly differences we might have had. The world might be mourning an Everly Brother but I’m mourning my brother Phil Everly.”