Among the many musicians mourning the death of the Everly Brothers' Phil Everly on Friday (January 3) is Albert Lee.
The British guitarist was instrumental in reuniting the two brothers for a 1983 concert at London's Royal Albert Hall -- the Everlys first performance together in 10 years -- and served as their musical director for the next 26 years.
But Lee tells us that long latter part of the Everlys career wasn't something he envisioned:
"Because their relationship was a little volatile at times...I thought, 'Well, I wonder how long this will last.' They hadn't spoken in 10 years before they did that concert...The fact that the following year they said, 'Right, we're gonna do a record and we're gonna go on the road' and it actually lasted another 24, 26 years to my great surprise."
Lee -- who's also worked with Eric Clapton, Emmylou Harris, Bill Wyman`s Rhythm Kings and others -- befriended both Everlys during the 60s in Britain and remained friendly even when they were on the outs with each other, performing in Don Everly's band at one point. But he says that he seldom tried to get in the middle of the brothers' squabbles:
"Oh, no, you daren't do that, no. They'd have words. Most of the time it was, a good deal of the time everything was fine, but they'd get a little bee in their bonnet every now and again about one subject or another, but it would blow over pretty quickly."
The Everlys stopped actively working in 2009, though Lee says he craved a comeback:
"I always hoped maybe they'd do a one-off special or whatever, or be a guest on a show...At the end of the last tour Don really wanted to carry on but Phil said, 'No, no, that's it.' He was having problems reaching the high notes and Don wouldn't change the keys, and he thought, 'Well, I don't need to do this anymore.' The last time I saw (Phil) he said, 'God, I miss the old days. We used to have a great time. I love being on the bus and being with the guys, but I don't miss being on stage."
Phil Everly died on Friday (January 3) from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at the age of 74 in Burbank, Calif.