Everly Brothers Park: Knoxville pocket park gets attention from music legends

Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A rock and roll icon is lending his voice to a special spot in the heart of Knoxville.

Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills & Nash fame and before that the Hollies is honorary chair of a pocket park dedicated to the Everly Brothers who had a strong Knoxville connection, and a real impact not only on Nash’s career but on many other musical superstars who also now have a presence at the park.

The Everly Brothers’ music is more than 60 years old and helped lay the foundation for rock-and-roll. The duo’s influence and Knoxville ties led to a charming little park in their name on Forest Park Boulevard, a street corner in the Bearden community.

American rock and roll duo The Everly Brothers, aka Don Everly and Phil Everly, London, UK, 20th September 1983. (Photo by D. Morrison/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Park chair and former Knoxville Vice Mayor Duane Grieve says, “the Everly brothers, who went to West High School, who lived in Sequoyah, whose parents, their dad and mother, worked in the area. What a great tribute to them.”

Everly Brothers Park not only provides a scenic backdrop for photos for the proud city and community leaders who helped make it happen, It continues to evolve since its ribbon-cutting last year.

A new addition graces the walkway; concrete plaques that display quotes from ten of the biggest names in rock and roll history, singing the praises of the Everly Brothers’ contribution to their music.

Among them are Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, and the park’s honorary chair, Graham Nash, who got his famous friends to send the messages for the markers.

Crosby, Stills and Nash are pictured in performance in an undated photo. From left: Stephen Stills, David Crosby and Graham Nash. (AP Photo)

We talked to Nash who’s staying at home in New York waiting out the pandemic.

“We’re doing very well, ” he says. “We have played by the CDC rules for the last 16 weeks.”

Early on, before he made it big, Nash, who has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame both as a member of Crosby, Stills & Nash and the Hollies, was inspired by the Everly Brothers and their unique blend of harmony and rock and roll.

“The Everly Brothers were incredibly important in my life,” Nash says. “Me and Alan Clarke helped the Everly Brothers make an album called ‘Two Yanks in England’ with six or seven Hollies songs. On that album was a man called Reggie Dwight, who of course later became Elton John.”

Nash went on to say it was an, “unbelievably profound moment for me.”

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer-songwriter Graham Nash in April 2014 file photo. (AP Photo/Statesman.com, Jay Janner, Pool)

Partnering with such a musical icon on the park project was Grieve’s dream.

“When we said, well I said, ‘Graham, will you do one? And he said , oh, absolutely, and he said I’ll talk to my friends, I’ll talk to Paul and Brian and Keith. ‘ Then, he said, ‘oh, Carole King, Joan Baez,’ he started naming names again and the very next day, Carole King’s quote and signature came,” Grieve told us.

Nash says, “I talked to my friend Keith Richards, I talked to Paul McCartney, talked to Paul Simon, talked to Carole King, talked to myself (smiles), talked to Brian Wilson, and we got them all. Duane showed me a couple of photographs of the plaques and they do look fabulous.”

Looking around, you see there’s room for even more.

Grieve says “my next phase, we would like to have some type of monument in the circle there to the boys, whether that’s a statue or something, I’ll call it Phase 2.”

A park honoring our rich musical heritage on a local and global scale. Something to be proud of here in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Graham Nash agrees.

“It’s great the City of Knoxville is smart enough to honor the Everly Brothers like this.”

Phil Everly passed away in January 2014. Don lives in Nashville. Their mother is still alive, living in Nashville, as well.

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