Homecoming Concerts

SHENANDOAH NEWS ARTICLE RE: Everly Brothers Connections and Phil Everly's Passing

Joe Lawler, The Des Moines Register Published 10:24 p.m. ET Jan. 4, 2014 | Updated 10:24 p.m. ET Jan. 4, 2014

SHENANDOAH, Iowa -- The news of Phil Everly's death determined Saturday's plans for Ed and Pam Volpi of Fremont, Neb.

They drove two hours to Shenandoah, the southwest Iowa childhood home of Phil and Don Everly — music's Everly Brothers.

"They were pioneers of rock 'n' roll," Ed Volpi said. "They never got the credit they deserved."

Phil Everly died Friday in California from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 74.

The Volpis brought flowers and joined other music fans who paid their respects at the one-room, 20-by-15-foot house where the Everlys lived as children.

Phil and Don Everly's presence looms over Shenandoah. There are signs, a monument and even a street named after them. But the affiliation wasn't always so strong.

RELATED: Phil Everly lent perfect pitch to brothers' harmonies

RELATED: The Everly Brothers: Essential listening

The brothers moved to Shenandoah when Phil was 5 and Don was 7, and lived there until they were in high school. The boys and their parents performed as the Everly Family on KMA and KFNF radio in the town.

"We're very proud of having someone in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame come through KMA, but growing up in the late '60s and early '70s, I don't remember hearing a lot about the Everlys, other than people telling me this is where they used to live," said Don Hansen, a DJ with KMA who grew up in the town. "It wasn't until I started working here in high school that I found out they were on the station."

Things started to change in the mid-1980s. In 1983, the brothers reunited after not speaking for nearly a decade. With the Everly Brothers performing again, Shenandoah resident Bill Hillman dedicated himself to bringing the brothers home again. He achieved that on July 5, 1986, when Phil and Don returned to perform outside his restaurant, Depot Deli.

At the time Shenandoah had a population of 6,200. More than 8,000 people paid $10.50 each to attend the show. The brothers spent the day revisiting spots around town, signing autographs and visiting with fans. During the concert, rain, thunder and lightning kicked up. The Everly Brothers finished the show, but part of Hillman's plan to make the show profitable was predicated on fans hanging out and buying beer afterwards.

Phil Everly
(Photo: Valerie Macon, AFP/Getty Images)
The show was a money loser for Hillman, but a win for the community. Fans traveled from around the country to see the Everly Brothers in Shenandoah. CBS broadcast from the city. The brothers gave the money back to the city in the form of a scholarship that continues for high school and middle school students.

Most importantly, the tie between Shenandoah and the Everlys was firmly established in the public consciousness.

Hillman's Depot Deli has Everly memorabilia scattered all over its walls. There are multiple autographed photos, illustrations, high school yearbooks, guitars and more. In 2006, he purchased the Everlys' small childhood home and moved it across the street from his restaurant. His plan has been to transform it into a "living museum."

It's too small to house much more than it already does, which includes the boys' childhood bed, but he wants to make it into a recording studio for acts passing through the city.

Fans can visit, but for now it also serves other purposes. Until recently, it was the home of Santa Claus for the city. A tree, wrapped presents and free toothbrushes for children still sit inside. Kids didn't realize that the singers of "Bye Bye Love" slept in the bed, not Santa.

"For a lot of us, they were just 'The Boys,'" Hillman said. "If you say 'The Boys' here, people know you're talking about the Everly Brothers."

Shenandoah, Iowa

Last update on February 12, 9:21 pm by Gloria Solis.
ON THE ROAD TO THE EVERLY BROTHERS MUSEUM IN CENTRAL CITY, KENTUCKY - With Bill and Sue Hillman. A few photos and notes from Sue-On's Travel Journal

Over the years we've made a point of visiting sites honouring some of our favourite music influences. We've created Web tributes for artists such as - Elvis, Sun Studios, Beatles, Buddy Holly, etc. No musical act, however, has had more of an influence on our music than The Everly Brothers. In 2013 we made the long trek from the middle of Canada down to the Everly Brothers Museum. The Museum is in Central City, in Western Kentucky, the place where Don and Phil Everly spent many of their pre-fame years. We've featured many of their songs in our repertoire over our 50-years of performing and this was a chance to visit many of the places that the Everlys sang about in John Prine's song, PARADISE: Muhlenberg County ~ Green River ~ Peabody Coal Company ~ Rochester Dam. . . and Paradise.

Everly Brothers | John Prine (composer) live | John Fogerty | Jim and Jesse 1976
When I was a child my family would travel
Down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born
And there's a backwards old town that's often remembered
So many times that my memories are worn.

And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away

Well, sometimes we'd travel right down the Green River
To the abandoned old prison down by Adrie Hill
Where the air smelled like snakes and we'd shoot with our pistols
But empty pop bottles was all we would kill.

Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

When I die let my ashes float down the Green River
Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam
I'll be halfway to Heaven with Paradise waitin'
Just five miles away from wherever I am.

As we neared Central City, we came upon the little town of Beaver Dam, KY.
Obviously we had to make a small side trip to visit the birthplace of
Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass music.

Monroe's Blue Moon of Kentucky was Elvis' first recording at Sun Records in Memphis.

Bill just had to get on stage to absorb the spirit of Bill Monroe and the whole bluegrass vibe.

We found our way back down the hills only to see this sign
which took us onto another "jog" in our journey to Central City.
Uncle Pen was Bill Monroe's uncle, whom he wrote and sang about:
Uncle Pen
"....Late in the evening about sundown.
High on the hill and above the town.
Uncle Pen played the fiddle lord how it would ring.
You could hear it talk; you could hear it sing"

Unfortunately, the "curator" of Uncle Pen's cabin decided it was a slow day and
he went back to town.
Our GPS, Carmen the Garmin said that if we followed Uncle Pen Lane,
we would meet up with the main road.
The gravel road gave way to a narrow dirt road.
But Carmen insisted and we've always trusted her!

Just another .7 miles to the main road, Carmen said.
Only now, the dirt road has deteriorated into deep ruts,
some filled with water, others with rocks.
At .5 miles, we finally found a space wide enough for us to turn around.
"Keep left! Over to the right! Stay straight! Gun the engine! Watch that rock! Don't slow down!"
Our little Honda Civic...got us out of a bad spot,
along with Bill's skillful driving and MY screaming directions

The car was a bit of a mess, as you can see Wink
Well. . . actually this is a photo of us in Don Everly's first sports car - an MG
He bought it with his first royalty cheque,
and has since donated it to the museum in Central City.
Our Honda carried lots of that yellow soil in the wheel wells for most the rest of the trip.
Can we call that "souvenirs"?

We've made it!
We knew we were in Everly country since the first street we saw in the city was
which was adorned with signs referring to the Everlys
. . . and a brief stop along the Boulevard at McDonalds
assured us that we were in the right town,
since the restaurant featured many displays of EB collectibles, photos and art.

A little further on and we see the sign:


NEXT. . .
The Museum Tour Begins

Last update on February 13, 5:49 pm by Chris.
There is so much good material here - makes everything come alive!

I am especially pleased that the lyrics for the song, "Paradise", are shown here; they, along with the music and photos, make a strong statement.

Bill and Sue Hillman now take a tour of the museum in Central City Kentucky, for all fans who want to see the museum I have already posted many photos into this thread, but this journey is Bill and Sue Hillman's own around the Museum. I posted a video of the museum into videos quite a while ago but US members cannot view it which is such a shame, this tour by Bill and Sue gives an insight into how they viewed it. I only wish you could actually see the museum video though because the EB's songs are playing whilst the camera takes you around.

Bill and Sue-On Hillman's Virtual Tour of
Central City, Kentucky

We are greeted by Carmel Rich the friendly and very knowledgeable Director of the Museum.
She has spent countless hours assembling and promoting this collection
and has many plans for expanding the facility.

The Everly Brothers Museum is a labour of love for Carmel,
who manages the Central City Tourism Bureau.
The Everly Brothers have, in the past, performed at concerts
back in their hometown, often for charitable causes.

Carmel is very proud of the Museum's record collection.
On display is every album that the Everlys have been associated with -
duo or solo ~ lead or back-up ~ production, etc.

Welcome to the Central City Tourism Commission Office and Museum and The Everly Brothers Monument!!! Stop in and tell Director Freddy Mayes who sent ya!!! You are looking for a waterproof blue tinted plastic box covered in duct tape big enough for TBs, small items and the log.

Welcome to Central City, Home of The Everly Brothers!!! The Everly Brothers are rock & roll legends who began in 1957 with the song "Bye Bye Love" and their music influenced The Beatles who sometimes referred to themselves as "The English Everly Brothers". The Everly Brothers were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. They recorded and toured together throughout the 60's and went solo from 1973-1983 then from 1983 to 2006, they were together again and were STILL sounding amazing! Sadly, Phil Everly passed away in January 2014. This cache is placed in this spot in memory of Phil and to commemorate this incredible duo's career. The Everly Brothers Monument was unveiled in Central City in 1988 and has brought thousands and thousands of visitors to our small town!

If you visit during business hours through the week (8am-4pm M-F), DO NOT MISS checking out the FREE Everly Brothers Museum right here at the Central City Tourism Office!! If no one is in the office when you visit during those hours, just step next door to City Hall and someone will assist you to be able to check out what's inside! We have placed this cache here with permission from the Director of the Central City Tourism Commission and he has let us know he will be very excited to see new faces!!

BONUS!!!!!! FTF will receive a Pin from the 8th Annual Everly Brothers Homecoming Festival!!!! This RARE pin is from 1995 and is in MINT condition!!!

Last update on June 20, 5:23 pm by Chris.

Many musical gifts come from Kentucky in general, and Central City, Muhlenberg County in particular.

Merle Travis and Guitar (from Music Museum?)

EVERLY CONNECTION: Ike Everly, Merle Travis, Moses Rager - 1956
Last update on February 24, 12:29 am by Gloria Solis.
A Pictoral Trip to John Prine's Paradise, KY in Muhlenberg County by John Prine

The lyrics of the song, "Paradise", are depicted in photos, line by line.


"When I was a child my family would travel down to Western Kentucky, where my parents were born. And there's a backwoods old town, that's often remembered, so many times that my memories are worn."

"and daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County..."


Quotes #35-38 John Prine at the Homecoming Music Festival, interviews photos
Quote #86 The Everly Brothers singing "Paradise"
Quotes #104, 107 John Prine photos with Everly Brothers and interviews
Quote #158 information on John Prine and song, "Paradise"
Quote #159 music sheet for "Paradise"
Last update on February 24, 1:18 am by Gloria Solis.
Bill and Sue-on Hillman's virtual tour of the Everly Brothers Museum at Central City, Kentucky, more photos:-

Last update on June 20, 5:24 pm by Chris.
Muhlenberg County Entertainers - all photos in the Central City Museum in Kentucky.

The tributes and special events have come fast and furious in recent years, but this one is special, engineered by the Nelson's themselves and causes Willie to pause and consider. Above: Invited guests line up to enter the Abbott Methodist Church July 2nd 2006. Willie and sister Bobbi have purchased the church where they sang as kids, re-opened it and are to give a special gospel concert on this day, followed by a dinner coordinated by the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. There's a lot coming round for them this afternoon. In the bottom photograph on the left Willie has asked Pastor Dave Rich to join him in song.

Last update on June 20, 5:10 pm by Chris.

What a fantastic tribute section in Central City Museum
Last update on June 20, 5:11 pm by Chris.
A tribute to Mose Rager, Ike Everly and Kennedy Jones, with Billy Hanlon, writing is on the screen to help out with who is playing and where they are. Thumb picking in Central City Museum what a great place to play guitar in. Michel Lelongs is playing a guitar which belonged to Phil.
Last update on June 20, 5:25 pm by Chris.
BILL AND SUE HILLMAN ON TOUR STILL AT THE CENTRAL CITY MUSEUM, they are now looking at the collectibles.

Last update on June 20, 5:26 pm by Chris.
The picture which Phil is holding is in the reception area in Central City Museum and at the Depot

Last update on June 20, 5:12 pm by Chris.

Billy Harlan

It just didn’t happen exactly how he planned

Billy Harlan was never a rockabilly star.

But to hear him tell it, he went from side man straight to legend.

After a glimpse at stardom in the late 1950s, the 78-year-old bass player from Muhlenberg County, Ky., experienced a lifetime of ordinary until he recently discovered fame among European fans he never knew he had.

"I marvel at it, actually," Harlan said of his newfound popularity. "I'm not making a lot of money, but that's not important. I've got Facebook friends from all over the world."

Born in a corner of Kentucky known for producing musicians — from the Everly Brothers to Merle Travis — Harlan can't remember a time he didn't sing. But there was a time when he thought he'd be a star.

From DJ to Music Row

'It just didn’t happen exactly how he planned'

When Harlan was 9 years old, his sister bought him a guitar at Sears, Roebuck and Co. for $9. By the 10th grade he had his own radio show on WRUS in Russellville. He traveled the 40 miles from Muhlenberg County to Owensboro to play with his teenage band, Melody Hands.

He was always the side man.

"I tell people the guy that plays the bass is the guy that don't sing that well and don't play the guitar that well," he said, laughing.

In 1955, the year Harlan graduated from Drakesboro Consolidated High School, he wrote a song called "My Fate is in Your Hands," and Grand Ole Opry star Hawkshaw Hawkins recorded it.

Harlan was still playing with the Melody Hands, writing songs and traveling to Nashville when he got married at 19. Though he'd established himself as a songwriter with Tree Publishing Co., he figured he needed a day job.

He left for work at a service station in Chicago but hadn't been there three weeks when he got a call that country star Jim Reeves needed a bass player. The job was only for three days but could turn into something full time.

"I'll be on the midnight bus," he remembered saying.

It did turn into a full-time job, and Harlan played off and on for Reeves for three years.

In 1958, he recorded his first 45 with "I Wanna Bop," and "Schoolhouse Rock," a twist on Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock." He remembers the first time he heard it on the radio — both sides — because he played it. Several times, in fact, one weekend on WMTA radio in Central City.

Over 50 years ago Billy Harlan recorded "I Wanna Bop" and it is now back in the spotlight thanks to a new group of fans.

Harlan didn't get another release from Brunswick Records. But he was still doing road work and playing bass for country superstars like George Jones and Ray Price. Then in 1959, Tree Publishing Co. secured a contract for him with RCA, and Chet Atkins produced a two-sider with songs called "This Lonely Man" and "Teen Jean Jive."

Harlan's brushes with fame had seemed to come in fits and starts.

Finally, he thought, this was his big break.

But a couple of months after he recorded the record in Nashville's famous Studio B, Atkins called to say he wouldn't release it. He didn't have faith it would sell.

"It broke my heart," Harlan said.

He got on a train for Arizona and didn't come back for 10 years.

"That's when I gave up the music," he said. "That was in 1959."

With his wife and first son, Harlan drifted out west. First, he was a carpenter apprentice, then moved to California to work in the space industry, and went to school to become a computer technician.

He moved to Louisville in 1968. It was time to come home. Soon after, he eased back into music, playing with a band called Sunny Watson and the Tradesmen. They played Catholic Church halls, weddings and Valentine's Day dances. He even wrote a song that ended up on the B side of Johnny Russell's album "Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer."

Harlan got married to his second wife in 1972 and had two more sons, in 1977 and 1979.

But by then, Harlan had long given up the dream.

Fame Found

'Finally, he thought, this was his big break'

It wasn't until 2010 that fame reappeared. Out of the blue, Harlan received an email from a Vegas organizer who wanted him to play an event billed as the largest rockabilly party in the world — the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend.

"I had no idea what he was talking about," Harlan said. "I thought to myself, 'I haven't sung those songs in 50 years. I wouldn't know where to start.' "

Harlan turned down the offer a few times but finally agreed to an all-expense-paid trip to Vegas and $1,000 paycheck for playing the event.

When Harlan arrived, he got the surprise of his life: He had fans from all over the world. He had no idea that when he was playing church halls in the late 1970s and early 1980s there had been a resurgence in rockabilly music's popularity.

Fans sang along to "I Wanna Bop" but also to the songs RCA had never released. Bear Family Records, a German-based record company, had bought the masters to "Teen Jean Jive" and "This Lonely Man" and included them on a rockabilly compilation album.

At age 75, Harlan stepped on stage in his black pants, black shirt, black boots and gold jacket.

"They hit the key, I started singing, and the band joined right in," he said.

Billy Harlan performs at the Muhlenberg County Music Museum

Carmel Rich and Royce Morgan performs with Billy Harlan and the gang

It was the first time since 1959 — when he played bass for Jim Reeves — that he'd seen such a crowd. But this time, they were there to see him.

Harlan stood in awe as rockabilly lovers from Sweden, Canada, France and across America lined up to have their picture taken with him and get his autograph.

"People had been listening to my music for 30 years, and I had no idea about it," he said.

Tom Ingram, the organizer who convinced Harlan to come to Las Vegas, has been a rockabilly disc jockey in clubs and on radio since the late 1970s.

"I have played his songs so many times over the years, so to book him was an honour," Ingram said.

Since the Las Vegas show, Harlan has played the Rockabilly Rave in 2013 in England and the Nashville Boogie Weekender this year.

One of Harlan's biggest fans lives in France, another in Slovenia, in Eastern Europe.

Living Legend

'But this time, they were there to see him'

Harlan moved back to Muhlenberg County in 2005 after he retired from Hillerich & Bradsby, where he worked in computers.

Now, he plays electric bass in the Benny Pryor Band every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday night. He gets paid, but it just covers gas and gives him a little pocket money. It's more about the fun of playing than anything else, he said. And he may play another festival in the fall of 2016 in Europe.

One show seems to beget another then another.

He also regularly stops by the small Muhlenberg County Music Museum in Central City, an old converted bank building, to play a jam session or talk to visitors. People come from all over the world to see black and white photos, concert T-shirts and ticket stubs from Muhlenberg County musicians, especially the Everly Brothers.

On a recent visit, he chatted with Martyn and Brenda Wheeler from Worcester, England, who came to see the Everly Brothers' home place. While looking through old photos and vinyl albums, Martyn Wheeler suddenly recognized "Teen Jean Jive" playing in the background. He had no idea who the man was standing in front of him.

"I know this song," Wheeler said and then looked at Harlan. "Is that you?"

Harlan grinned. "That's me," he said. "1959."

Harlan doesn't lament that fame came late. By some measures, he's lived a bit of the superstar lifestyle: He's had three wives, drives a Cadillac and still uses pomade to poof his grey hair, though not quite into the pompadour he once had.

His wife of a decade, Ann Harlan, said they found each other at just the right time. She's proud of his accomplishments and loves to hear him sing — "all day long," she said. She even takes on the role of roadie when shows take him out of town for the night.

At his age, Harlan isn't interested in pursuing royalties. It's enough to know that both a French Canadian and an Australian Aborigine covered his most famous tune, he said.

After so many years away from the recording industry he never really thought "maybe one day" and was surprised when it actually came. If his life hadn't worked out the way it did, he wouldn't have his last two sons. And besides, his contemporaries like Roger Miller and Johnny Paycheck are long dead. And he's still here.

"I have no regrets," Harlan said.

But he occasionally thinks about what might have been, especially on stage when he sings "This Lonely Man," the ballad RCA never released. He can see his younger self on "American Bandstand" or "The Ed Sullivan Show" as the lead singer — the star.

Where is my love? Where did she go? Why did she leave when I love her so? Please send her back, someone who can. Send back the one love for this lonely man.

But those thoughts don't linger long before he remembers the feast and famine of the early days, the exhausting weeks on the road, the time away from family.

He knows he made the right decision in 1959. He can't say exactly when it happened, but his broken heart mended long ago.

Back in his Muhlenberg County home, Harlan is certainly not a lonely man. And it may have taken more than 50 years, but his love — the music, his dream — came back to him.
Last update on June 20, 5:18 pm by Chris.

Duane Eddy and John Prine at the press conference in the afternoon of the 2nd Homecoming Concert in Central City 1989.

Duane Eddy was accompanied by his fabulous saxophone player Dennis Solely and he performed "Rebel Rowser" amongst other songs.

Also see Page 1 #3

Duane Eddy at the 1989 Homecoming Concert in Central City

Last update on June 20, 5:20 pm by Chris.
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