The Everly Brothers Honored With ‘Tennessee Music Pathways’ Marker in Knoxville

by Jim Casey

Don and Phil Everly’s time in Knoxville, Tennessee, may have been brief, but it was bright. And now, The Everly Brothers have a new Tennessee Music Pathways marker in a Knoxville park that bears their name. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development unveiled the marker in Everly Brothers Park on Sept. 12.

“The Tennessee Music Pathways were created to preserve, promote, and inspire Tennessee’s rich and diverse musical heritage. The Everly Brothers not only helped shape the state’s rich music history, but shaped rock-and-roll music around the world, and for that, we are grateful to celebrate them today,” said Tennessee Department of Tourist Development commissioner Mark Ezell.

While in Knoxville, fans can visit Everly Brothers Park and learn more about the duo on the newly placed marker. The pocket park is the only commemorative park in the United States to honor The Everly Brothers, who are members of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Country Music Hall of Fame. The park features inlaid plaques with signatures and quotes from famous musicians on the impact of the Everly Brothers on both their careers and music around the world.

Knoxville Connection

Don (born in Kentucky in 1937) and Phil (born in Illinois in 1939) came by their talents naturally. Their parents, Ike and Margaret Everly, were country singers. They had the boys performing on their KMA radio show in Iowa in the 1940s. At the time, Don, 8, and Phil, 6, were introduced as “Little Donnie and Baby Boy Phil.” By 1950, the radio show was known as The Everly Family Show. In fact, to some degree, Ike is credited with influencing guitar icon Merle Travis’ flat-picking style.

The family moved to Knoxville in 1953 when the boys were teens. While Don and Phil lived in Knoxville just a couple of years (1953-1955), they made semi-regular appearances on WROL radio shows. The boys rebranded as a duo, The Everly Brothers, with the mentorship of Chet Atkins, who was a Knoxville native. They moved to Nashville in 1955.

Their first recording, “Keep A’ Lovin’,” failed to make a splash in 1956. However, the boy released “Bye Bye Love” in March 1957. It became a hit. With their trademark harmonies and stellar guitar work, Don and Phil Everly became one of the most celebrated duos in music history—across both rock and country. Over the course of their career, the duo scored a number of chart-toppers, including “Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” “Cathy’s Clown,” and more.

Phil, 74, died in 2014, while Don, 84, passed away in 2021.