Hillman Book Project: Roots Section

CKY Fall Festival of Stars (book excerpt):
EverlyMania with The Dovermen ~ Newbeats ~ Roger Miller ~ Everly Brothers


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CKY Fall Festival of Stars (book excerpt)
Our band The Dovermen had driven into Winnipeg to play a number of Community Centres in 1964, but a much higher profile gig came our way at the Winnipeg Auditorium on November 16. We were booked to open the sell-out CKY Fall Festival of Stars with headliners The Everly Brothers, Roger Miller and the Newbeats. We were also asked to back the Newbeats who were riding high with hits like Bread and Butter, but we had only a few minutes rehearsal with them backstage. I sensed a bit of panic in their faces when they noticed how young two of our band guys looked, but the songs went well. Larry Henley's falsetto lead vocals surprised us since we had thought it had been a girl singing on the records (a few years later Henley wrote Wind Beneath My Wings).

We opened with a Shadows instrumental and followed with a Stones number, The Kinks' You Really Got Me and a few more current rockers. We then backed The Newbeats on their hits. I left my Fender Twin amp set up on stage and it was used by Roger Miller's guitarist, Thumbs Carllile. The very entertaining Miller sang his current big hits including, Dang Me, King of the Road, Chug-a-lug, and Engine, Engine No. 9.  Roger who was riding high on the charts with these hits had received top billing for the show. We were, however, soon to see why the Everlys, early in the tour, were chosen to close the shows.

The Everly Brothers' band included Sonny Curtis from Buddy Holly's Crickets, but sadly there wasn't too much time for chatting with him on the show. When the long-haired and charismatic Don and Phil Everly started belting out their many hits with their famous "goose-bump" harmonies the audience went wild. First, the crowd sang along with every song. It wasn't long though, before the screams began and the excited girls mobbed the stage as the Everly magic took hold. The fire warden threatened to close down the show a number of times if the fans didn't return to their seats.

This was our first experience with a really wild Elvis/Beatlemania type of audience. It was also the first time we had worked with male performers who wore stage make-up... and who appeared strangely "glassy-eyed." When Sue-On and I started to perform so many of the Everly songs a few years later, we noticed that you can play the chords and melody from Walk Right Back (the Everlys' 1961 hit written by Sonny Curtis) when you sing Roger Miller's later 1965 hit Engine, Engine Number Nine. When told about that, Sonny Curtis said, "Mad at Roger for copying me? No, I'm honoured." Sonny has written many hits including the theme for The Mary Tyler Moore TV show.

When we returned to the Aud to pack up next morning we found one of the Everlys' famous Gibson guitars that had been left behind a stage curtain. We were there when their road manager phoned from Minneapolis to track down the whereabouts of the instrument. It was soon after this show that we were booked to back Canadian rock idol, Bobby Curtola, on his Western Canada tour. We were about to see many more screaming audiences.

Ten years would go by before we would have a chance to see the Everly Brothers in concert again. The opening act for this show was Jud Strunk who had just had a hit with "Daisy a Day." The brothers were welcomed warmly by a large adoring crowd. Costumes and music styles had changed a bit but their unique harmonies still thrilled the audience. The set lists were similar to those featured in their recent live album. The rapport between the brothers seemed a bit strained, but it was a shock when we heard a few months later that they had gone through their well publicized breakup at Knotts Berry Farm.
KY Good Guys and Friends ~ Winnipeg
 Everlys with CKY Good Guys and Friends
before our show in Winnipeg

Everly Brothers
On Stage
.Don's Gibson Guitar Case
The wayward guitar

Bill and Sue-On Hillman
Sing the Everly Brothers'
(Recorded in 1971)
Hillman CD Album Volume 12