Phil Everly's brother Don pays him an emotional goodbye

Jan 6, 2014 at 8:06 a.m. ET

Everly Brothers surviving member Don Everly is mourning his brother Phil Everly, who recently passed at age 74, and Queen guitarist Brian May also paid an emotional tribute.

Everly BrothersDon Everly is saying goodbye to his Everly Brothers partner Phil Everly after his sibling died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

In an interview with People magazine, Don expressed his grief for his musical partner and brother, who passed away on Friday.

"I loved my brother very much," Don told the magazine from his home in Tennessee. "I always thought I'd be the one to go first."

He also revealed that he received a private, spiritual message he believes his brother sent just minutes before he heard the sad news.

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"I was listening to one of my favorite songs that Phil wrote and had an extreme emotional moment just before I got the news of his passing," he said. "I took that as a special spiritual message from Phil saying good-bye."

All was not always rosy between the lauded pop-rock duo that is credited with influencing such legendary acts as The Beatles, The Beach Boys and the Byrds — but in the end, they were still brothers.

"Our love was and will always be deeper than any earthly differences we might have had," Don said, alluding to the pair's decadelong split beginning in 1973 amid high tensions. "The world might be mourning an Everly Brother, but I'm mourning my brother Phil Everly. My wife Adela and I are touched by all the tributes we're seeing for Phil and we thank you for allowing us to grieve in private at this incredibly difficult time."

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Queen guitarist Brian May paid tribute to the brilliant harmonizer on his website soon after learning of the death.

"So sad. Somehow, although it might seem corny to use this song title, I can’t get it out of my mind," he wrote. "It's the oddest thing. I was only just strumming the Everly Brothers hit of that name and in my head I could hear every note on the track and sing every nuance of the two parts Don and Phil sang."

"The music of the Everlys, which thrilled me to the core when I was a boy, will be in my head till I die. Now I hear Phil is gone. I feel like a huge piece of my youth just melted away."

"I loved those guys and still do. From them I learned to play rhythm guitar and how two-part harmonies work. How different emotions are evoked using different sequences of intervals, how to find the moments that chill your spine. I could probably write a book on the music of the fabulous Everly Brothers. But you’ll find echoes of their influence in a lot of our old Queen songs and perhaps that is the best tribute."

"I never met them. Wish I had. But they will always be my heroes. So sad. RIP Phil Everly — you were magic. I have tears in my eyes."

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