As you likely know, the world became a little less harmonious last week when the great Phil Everly passed away at the age of 74. Anyone who has ever switched on an oldies station knows the Everlies as the voices behind hits like “Wake Up Little Susie” and “Bye Bye Love,” but they were much more than an oldies act — Phil and Don Everly were pioneering songwriters of the early rock ‘n’ roll era and perhaps the greatest masters of harmony that pop music has ever seen. Just listen to “All I Have to Do Is Dream” or “Devoted” and you should find yourself falling into an uncontrollable swoon. This article from the Guardian says it better than I could here: “Given their run of hits it seems weird to think of them as underrated. I’d go as far as to say they are the single most underrated act in modern pop history.”
I dug around a little looking for an Everly food connection (everyone has one), and came across this 1968 article from the St. Petersburg Independent. Recipe aside, the article is a gem: writer Johna Blinn (who wrote a 1981 book called Celebrity Cookbook, which I just ordered from Amazon) takes Phil and Don Everly to Wednesday’s “Manhattan’s newest dining discotheque,” which featured “picnic grounds, flower gardens, vineyards, a penny arcade and a flea market.” Why do such places no longer exist?
Blinn chats with the Everlies and Phil revealed that he lived on hamburgers and that his brother Don gave him a barbeque pit for his birthday. In an interview with People this week, Phil’s widow Patti said that Phil continued to love to barbeque throughout his life, often cooking up lamb or burgers by the pool for family and friends. Good barbeque requires a killer sauce, so I decided to make the sauce recipe that the Everlies provided for the article in the independent.
I believe this recipe is technically credited to Don Everly, but I’d like to think that the Everlies’ barbeque preferences were as inseparable as their voices. The newspaper article suggested putting it on spareribs, but I used it on a meatloaf, the Canadian winter version of Phil’s beloved burgers. The brothers warned that it’s super hot, but unless you add a whack of cayenne, it’s just the right temperature for anyone who wants a little bit of zing. The instructions tell you to cook it for an hour, but Phil said “I sniff it as it’s cooking. When I cough, I know that it’s done.”
The Everly Brothers’ Very Hot Barbeque Sauce
Makes about a pint of sauce
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp dry mustard
2 tbsp chili powder
cayenne pepper to taste
Combine all of the ingredients (except the cayenne: leave it until close to the end so you gauge the seasoning) in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer slowly until it thickens: about an hour (or until you cough). Keep excess in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
There are so many great Everly Brothers songs to leave you with. You’ve probably heard most of the greats from the late ’50s and early ’60s several times over the last few days, so I’m giving you a little bit of 1967’s “Bowling Green” (which, btw, only made it to #40 on the Billboard Charts, but was #1 in Canada). Enjoy.