Musician Everett Lilly of Clear Creek
By John Lilly
Everett Lilly of Clear Creek, Raleigh County. Photograph by Michael Keller.
Born in 1924, musician Everett Lilly has been going strong for nearly 85 years, living just a stone’s throw from the Clear Creek property where he was born. A casual observer might not realize that Everett, together with his late brother “B,” traveled the world over, performing and promoting the music of his Raleigh County home.
The Lilly Brothers, playing with neighbor Don Stover, introduced countless new fans to the down-home music of southern West Virginia at the peak of their popularity during the mid- to late 1960's. Singing tight, “brother” harmonies and playing at a breakneck tempo on guitar, mandolin, banjo, and fiddle, they are generally credited with bringing authentic mountain music to New England in the 1950's and then, in the 1970's, to Japan.
One of seven children born to Burt and Stella “Stell” Lilly, Everett describes himself as one of the family’s “middle” children. He had four sisters: Flossie, Strossie, Ella, and Zettie. His older brother was named Michael Burt “B”; the youngest child in the family was brother Vivia. The ancestors of the Lilly family were among the earliest settlers to that part of West Virginia. [See “The Lost Village of Lilly,” by Jack Lilly; Summer 1998.]
Everett’s family farmed and lived without indoor plumbing or electricity, as did all of their neighbors. Burt was a carpenter by trade. He built houses, including the house where Everett was raised. He also taught Everett the carpentry trade; Everett himself built his current home, as he points out with a note of pride in his voice.
While he was growing up, Everett and his family spent much of their time at the local Methodist church, where Burt Lilly sang and played the pump organ. This was Everett’s introduction to music, he says. Many of the old hymns sung at this church, most taken from an old Shape Note hymnal, became integral to the Lilly Brothers’ repertoire in later years.
There was an old pump organ in their home, as well, and two of Everett’s sisters became proficient at playing it. “I had a sister. Her name was Ella,” Everett recalls. “She could really play an organ. She’d play all such stuff as ‘Ridin’ On that New River Train.’ She could tear it up!”
But keyboard music didn’t hold a deep attraction for Everett personally. “We never cared much for the organ and pianos,” Everett says. “I like them now more than I did in those days.” Instead, Everett and B were drawn to string music, which was becoming increasingly popular in their area.
At the age of four or six years old – Everett isn’t sure exactly how old he was – Everett and B began singing together. As Everett recalls, he initially sang the melody while B played guitar and sang harmony. The pair of precocious youngsters sang at church and entertained neighbors at family and community gatherings, singing hymns and traditional songs. Though Everett had already begun to teach himself to play the guitar, his father bought him a mandolin, which quickly became Everett’s main instrument. In addition to taking up the mandolin, Everett also taught himself to sing tenor harmony, leaving B to carry the melody on most songs and establishing the core of the distinctive “Lilly Brothers” sound they would carry with them throughout their careers.
You can read the rest of this article in this issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.
Source - http://www.wvculture.org/goldenseal/summer09/everett_lilly.html
The Lilly Brothers
|The Lilly Brothers|
|Origin||West Virginia; Boston, Massachusetts, USA|
|Years active||1950s – 1970s|
|Mitchell Burt "Bea" Lilly|
Charles Everett Lilly
Benjamin F. Logan
- In 1986. the Lilly Brothers were inducted into the Massachusetts Country Music Hall of Fame and Don Stover was inducted the following year.
- On October 17, 2002, the Lilly Brothers and Don Stover were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.
- In November 2008, the Lilly Brothers were inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall Of Fame.
|1948||"What Are They Doing In Heaven" / "They Sleep Now Together At Rest"||Page||505|
|1957||"Tragic Romance" / "Are You Tired of Me, My Darling"||Event||E-4261|
|1959||"John Henry" / "Bring Back My Blue-Eyed Boy To Me"||Event||E-4272|
|1962||Folk Songs From the Southern Mountains||Folkways||FA 2433||one side with Don Stover|
|1963||Bluegrass Breakdown||Prestige Folklore||FL14010||with Don Stover|
|1964||The Country Songs of the Lilly Brothers||Prestige Folklore||FL14035|
|1970||Early Recordings||County||729||with Don Stover, recorded 1956-57|
|1973||What Will I Leave Behind||County||742||with Don Stover|
|1974||Holiday in Japan, Part 1||Towa||TWA 101S||with Don Stover, live in Japan|
|1974||Holiday in Japan, Part 2||Towa||TWA 102S||with Don Stover, live in Japan|
|1974||Holiday in Japan, Part 3||Towa||TWA 103S||with Don Stover, live in Japan|
|1996||Live at Hillbilly Ranch||Hay Holler||HHCD1333||recorded in Boston, July 1967|
|2001||Live at Tamarack 2001||Lilly Bros||5704||with the Lilly Mountaineers|
|2002||On the Radio 1952-1953||Rounder||1109||with Don Stover|
|2003||West Virginia, Oh How I Miss You||Lilly Bros||with the Lilly Mountaineers|
Compilations and reissues
|1977||Bluegrass Breakdown||Rounder||SS01||reissue of Prestige FL14010|
|1977||The Lilly Brothers - Country Songs||Rounder||SS02||reissue of Prestige FL14035|
|1991||Early Recordings||Rebel||1688||reissue of County 729|
|1999||The Prestige/Folklore Years, Vol 5: Have a Feast Here Tonight||Prestige||9919||CD reissue of Prestige FL14010 and FL14035|
|2001||Newport Folk Festival - Best Of Bluegrass 1959-66||Vanguard||VCD-187-89-2||2-CD set, includes 5 live tracks by the Lilly Brothers|
|2003||What Will I Leave Behind||Rebel||1788||reissue of County 742|
|2005||Bluegrass at the Roots||Folkways||SWF40158||reissue of Folkways FA2433 plus 2 unreleased tracks|
|1979||"True Facts in a Country Song"||Burt/Chadwick||16mm/DVD||29 minute documentary by Susan Burt & Doug Chadwick|
|2005||Festival!||Eagle Vision||DVD||Newport Folk Festival 1963-66, various artists|
|2006||Bluegrass Country Soul||Time Life||DVD||Camp Springs, NC Bluegrass Festival 1971, various artists|
- ^ Carr, Munde 1996, p. 108.
- ^ a b c d e f Carlin 2003, p. 233.
- ^ a b c Jones 2008, p. 244.
- ^ a b c d Erbsen 2003, p. 49.
- ^ a b c Wolff, Duane 2000, p. 231.
- ^ Black 2005, p. 50.
- ^ Pennell, Charley (November 10, 2009). "Blue Grass Singles by Artist". Discography of Bluegrass Sound Recordings, 1942 -. ibiblio. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
- ^ a b Spottswood, Dick (2005). "Some Notes for This Reissue" (PDF). Bluegrass At The Roots, 1961. Smithsonian Folkways. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
- ^ Pennell, Charley (February 13, 2010). "Blue Grass LPs by Artist, La-Lz". Discography of Bluegrass Sound Recordings, 1942 -. ibiblio. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
- ^ Sparks, Beth. "Discography". Music of The Lilly Mountaineers & The Lilly Brothers. The Lilly Mountaineers. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
- ^ "Prestige Records Catalog". Jazzdisco.org. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
- Black, Bob (2005) Come Hither To Go Yonder, University of Illinois Press
- Carlin, Richard (2003) Country Music: A Biographical Dictionary, Taylor & Francis
- Carr, Joe - Munde, Alan (1996) Prairie Nights To Neon Lights: The Story of Country Music In West Texas, Texas Tech University Press
- Erbsen, Wayne (2003) Rural Roots of Bluegrass: Songs, Stories and History, Mel Bay Publications
- Jones, Loyal (2008) Country Music Humorists and Comedians, University of Illinois Press
- Wolff, Kurt - Duane, Orla (2000) Country Music: The Rough Guide, Rough Guides
Updated 5/8/12, 10am