13 October, 1962
THE REHEARSAL TOOK PLACE AT LONDON'S PRICE OF WALES THEATRE, just off Piccadilly. Phil Everly glanced across at his brother and nodded. “Let’s try Crying In The Rain,” he suggested. He and Don strummed the intro and moved into one of their trademark harmonies. “I’ll never let you see, the way my broken heart is hurtin’ me,” they sang. Just a moment later, Don Everly let his Gibson crash to the ground and rushed across to his wife Venetia, weeping.
Guitarists Don Peake and Joey Page, who with drummer Charles Blackwell, formed the Everly’s back-up trio, sat in stunned silence. Phil Everly halted the proceedings and the brothers headed back to their hotel. The Everlys’ second UK tour, due to start at East Ham Granada on October 14, seemed over even before it had begun. Promoter Arthur Howes looked glum.
"Everything has been against us."
Perhaps there had been warning signs when, a few weeks earlier, Warner Brothers head Mike Maitland had flown into London to smooth the way for the Everlys. “Everything has been against us,” he explained, citing the brothers’ military service and touring commitments.
So excuses were being made even before their arrival. At that point somewhere in Hollywood, Don and Phil were proving much more positive about their trip. Don mused, “We thought we wouldn’t make it with Cathy’s Clown in Britain, but we’re so happy that it did. Look – my suit is the finest lightweight Yorkshire worsted. What cloth! We’re grateful to a country that can produce such quality.” Recently married to actress Venetia Stevenson, daughter of Mary Poppins director Robert Stevenson, Don seemed eager to visit England, his wife’s birthplace, in her company.
Phil Lands In London... Without Don
In the interim, addiction to the prescribed drug Ritalin had caused Don to become increasingly erratic. When Phil flew into Heathrow on 11 October, Don wasn’t with him. He’d missed two planes and arrived a day late. The London rehearsal debacle was followed by Don being rushed to Charing Cross hospital where he discharged himself after six hours. On Sunday he was rushed to hospital yet again. Later it was rumoured that he’d attempted suicide twice during this period.
By Monday Don had no hope of appearing on the tour and boarded the midday flight to New York. Despite everything, Phil Everly decided to go ahead with the tour, headlining a bill that included Frank Ifield, Ketty Lester and The Vernons Girls. The first date, at East Ham, provided encouraging.
After the Everly Trio played three instrumentals, the black suited Phil began nervously with Lucille but received a terrific ovation. He performed some songs in solo mode, then as Joey Page providing vocal assistance, the harmonies fell into place once more. Promoter Howes, encouraged by the crowd’s reaction, immediately asked Phil to continue the tour, though a Sunday Night At The London Palladium TV appearance and some other dates were cancelled.
"I don't know what I was thinking..."
Claimed Phil: “I don’t know what I was thinking on that first night – I was too mixed up. But that second night, at Hull, was one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had. The audience was really with me and this, more than anything, made he grab hold of myself and determine that I wouldn’t pull out of the show.”
By the time the Everly Brother show reached Croydon on October 23, the prospect of Phil having to pull out, due to the Cuban crisis, was being mulled over in the Press. Phil explained: “We are first reserves for the US Marines and President Kennedy calls, then we shall have to go – even if it’s in the middle of the show tonight!” A couple of days later, the Cuban missile problem hit another visit. When the Crickets flew into London on 26 October to tour with Bobby Vee, drummer and leader Jerry Allison was missing because his leave from the US Air Force had been cancelled. Sam Cooke also had problems, missing the opening show of a tour with Little Richard at Doncaster because his plane was delayed by adverse weather conditions. But there was something of a bonus for the attendees - Gene Vincent, unable to appear onstage due to work, permit restrictions, joined in the proceedings from a seat in the stalls.
Finally, the month ended on a high for Arthur Howes, when, on Sunday 28 October, Brian Epstein phoned. “I have a new group called The Beatles,” he said, “who are very good and now have a chart record. Would you like to add them to your next tour?”