Sunday, May 23, 2010

50 years ago: The Everly Brothers “Cathy’s Clown” hit #1

Cathy’s Clown

The Everly Brothers

Writer(s): Don Everly, Phil Everly (see lyrics here)

First Charted: April 18, 1960

Peak: 15 US, 15 CB, 14 HR, 11 RB, 17 UK, 2 CN, 3 AU, 8 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 8.5 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Don and Phil Everly were pioneers of rock and roll, combined elements of country and pop. They found success with “Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream” and more in the 1950s. On songs like the latter, the brothers “radiated a tremulous lost-little-kid vulnerability. That approachability might have been one key to their longevity; they were still making hits back when many of their peers were falling off.” SG “Of that initial big-bang wave of ’50s rock ‘n’ roll stars, the Everly Brothers were arguably the least threatening.” SG

In 1960, when some rock stars were already peaking, the Everlys signed a 10-year, million-dollar contract with Warner Brothers. FB It was reportedly the first million-dollar contract. KL Their first single on the new label, “Cathy’s Clown,” was the best-selling of their career. SG It was also their longest-running #1 in the UK, where they topped the charts five times. The song also has the distinction of being the first single to be atop the charts simultaneously in the United States and the UK. FB

The “perfectly solid pop song about romantic bitterness” SG was written once Don and Phil Everly were home in Nashville after a tour. Warner Brothers was eager for a hit and didn’t see one in the eight songs the Everlys had recorded so far. Don wrote the melody and the chorus while Phil wrote the verses. FB It was another example of how they “simply knew how to put a song together.” SG “They managed to make even the bitterness sound friendly and approachable.” SG

Graham Gouldman of 10cc said, “I loved the Everly Brothers and still do. They would sound like three people singing and they recorded brilliant songs, looked great, and played beautiful guitars. ‘Cathy’s Clown’ was the first record I bought and I can still hear its influence in my writing. I loved the fact that one note was being held with another melody descensing underneath it. I used that idea in ‘For Your Love’ for the Yardbirds.” KL


  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 68.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 67.
  • SG Stereogum (2/23/2018). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia

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First posted 11/12/2022.

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