AFP

LOS ANGELES-Phil Everly, half of the 1950s and ‘60s pop duo the Everly Brothers that influenced rock and country performers for decades, died Friday at the age of 74, US media reported.

Everly, a longtime smoker, died at a hospital in Burbank, California due to complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, his widow Patti Everly told the Los Angeles Times. Everly and his older brother Don, who survives him, rose to fame in the 1950s with hits such as ‘Wake Up Little Susie,’ ‘All I Have to Do is Dream’ and ‘Bye Bye Love.’

The impact of the brothers ‘exceeds even their fame,’ Paul Simon wrote in Rolling Stone magazine.

‘Perhaps even more powerfully than Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers melded country with the emerging sound of Fifties rock and roll.’ ‘They were a big influence on John Lennon and Paul McCartney and, of course, on Simon and Garfunkel,’ Simon wrote. The duo was among the first performers to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and in 2001 they were also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Phil and his brother Don were the children of Midwestern country singers Ike and Margaret Everly, and performed on the family radio show while growing up. As teenagers — two clean-cut youths in suits and ties - they headed for Nashville, Tennessee, and began their stellar career.

The Everly Brothers signed their first record deal in 1957 and soon after produced hits that spanned the genres of pop, rock and country. The two were known for close-harmony singing and praised by Rolling Stone magazine as ‘the most important vocal duo in rock’ and ‘a major influence on the music of the 1960s.’ The brothers sang in sweet harmony in public, but as they aged they struggled with drug and alcohol abuse and increasingly clashed off stage.

In 1973 they even broke up in the middle of a performance in southern California, and did not perform again together until 1983, when they played at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The brothers produced two albums in the 1980s and played some shows in the 1990s, but were largely estranged.