DON EVERLY, 46, is a little bit heavier now. Looks a bit like rocker Steve Miller.

Phil Everly, 44, hasn't changed much. Maybe a few lines around the eyes. Looks like Dick Clark playing at being Johnny Cash.

At least they're talking again.

They didn't for almost 10 years. This after racking up 18 million-selling singles in five years, after bringing velvety country harmony to rock 'n' roll and influencing groups as diverse as the Beatles, Hollies, Byrds and Beach Boys (who recorded once as the Cleverly Brothers).

This after investing the dance with romance again, after being the boys next door (or the noise next door, if you didn't like rock 'n' roll), the top duo of rock's first generation mimicked by the top duo of the next generation, Simon and Garfunkel.

They were the end of one line, the beginning of another.

"It was just time," says Phil Everly, "time for us to get back."

"We caught ourselves at the right moment," adds Don, "and so we just got it going again. We talked a long time before we ever played--at least a year."

They got back together last September in London's Royal Albert Hall (an edited, hour-long version of that concert aired recently on HBO). The last time the Everly Brothers had performed together was a decade before in California, in the John Wayne Theatre at Knott's Berry Farm. It became the nadir in a downwardly spiraling career that had peaked in the early '60s, and barely sputtered into the '70s.

Halfway through that show, Don Everly turned to the audience, snarling "I quit, I'm tired of being an Everly Brother. The Everly Brothers died 10 years ago." Offstage, he smashed his guitar to pieces. And stopped talking to Phil.

"That's all passed," says Don. "Now that we've done the show, it doesn't seem like so almighty much."

"Everybody's grown too old to bother with it," adds Phil. "We're brothers and there'll always be brother stuff, but that's nothing to write home about."

They'd started early, back in 1945, when Don was the 7-year-old star of the Everly Family Show. "We'd had 25 years of working in a very intimate situation," he says. "We'd been in it a long time as a family. There was a portion of me that never did grow up. At the end we were kind of locked together, still juveniles . . ."

"I'm planning to grow up soon," Phil injects.

". . . with a rivalry that never had been dealt with properly. I think getting away from each other was a big help. But people didn't take it kindly that we broke up, I must say."

Their father, Ike, had been in a group that also called itself the Everly Brothers (with uncles Charlie and Leonard), fronting a string band that worked on live radio and toured the South and Midwest. Eventually, Ike teamed up with his wife, Margaret, and they moved into a series of weekly country radio shows. Don joined up at age 7, and two years later Phil showed up in a matching cowboy suit. They worked from then on, taking winter breaks to catch up on schooling.

"But then live radio died out," says Phil. "We were laid off from our last radio job in Knoxville, Tennessee." Which wasn't far from Nashville, where Ike Everly, now retired from show business, was supporting his teen-age sons' career by working construction jobs. Arriving in Nashville in 1954, Don and Phil struggled for attention, cutting a couple of go-nowhere songs for Columbia. "But the great wheel of fate turns and for some reason things began to work," says Don.

"We had arrived with pegged pants and long, swept-back hair and didn't quite fit," he continues, "and we had a hell of a time for a while." But their pure and intuitive country-bred harmonies, kin to the Louvin and Delmore brothers, caught the ear of producer Chet Atkins and "kept us alive. We had been doing different stuff in the family show, so pop music was not an alien thing. We just wanted to do something you could dance to."

The first hit came in 1957 with a song rejected by 30 other recording artists--"Bye Bye Love." After that came "Wake Up Little Susie," banned in Boston because it suggested Susie was sleeping with someone at the drive-in. "It didn't even enter our minds that anybody could object to it," Phil laughs. "But if we'd called a press conference to deny it nobody would have shown up. They were all off listening to big bands. Nobody cared"--though enough cared to make it No. 1.

The Everlys, in song and in appearance, projected sentimental images that countered the sexually charged energy of many of the rock acts of the time. Theirs was a triumph of love over sex, of relationships over relations. They were rock 'n' roll's first true innocents. Everything they gave was positive, familial, reflecting country music's sense of tradition, something exemplified on an early album called "Songs Our Daddy Taught Us."

"We were pretty clean cut," Don confesses. "We didn't play up a 'bad boy' image. When you do a song like 'Let It Be Me,' it's pretty respectable . . . now I hear it in elevators."

"The '50s were a soft romantic period," says Phil. "Girls still said no. Well, they did for me anyhow."

If the Everlys had a few misses, the late '50s and early '60s were filled with hits: "All I Have to Do Is Dream," "Claudette," "Bird Dog," "Problems," "Take a Message To Mary," "Till I Kissed You," "When Will I Be Loved," "Cathy's Clown," "So Sad," "Lucille," "Walk Right Back." Most of these songs were revived on the HBO special, with many of the lyrics taking on new meanings ("It breaks my heart to see us part, so sad to watch good love go bad" and "I want you to know that since you walked out on me nothing seems to be the same old way . . .")

"In the '50s the longevity problem existed with each single," says Don. "Once you didn't get two in a row, you were practically finished, you were as cold as yesterday's mashed potatoes. We got used to living from record to record. There were a lot of one-record acts in the business then. And if you didn't have a record on the charts, you couldn't even get arrested. You were no longer part of that elite group."

That's the curse of popular music. Times, tunes and tastes change and, spurred by some managerial and contractual disputes, they changed for the Everly Brothers. By 1963, "American groups had taken a back seat to the British," Don explains. "I knew that when we went to London and the press met us at the airport and all they wanted to know was what we thought of the Beatles, who hadn't hit in the States yet."

Which was ironic, since Paul McCartney and John Lennon had been deeply influenced by the Brothers. "McCartney told us he and Lennon had learned to write listening to us," Don muses.

In 1963, already feeling deserted by history, Don Everly suffered a nervous breakdown while on tour in England. Later there would be a suicide attempt, and both brothers battled drug dependencies acquired when vitamin shots they were receiving turned out to be laced with speed. Musically, they countered with a more grandiose sound that failed to mask their lack of assurance. Their albums began to rely on strings, but none of those strings led to the quality songs that had marked their prime. The harmonies were as sweet as ever, but the performances lacked conviction.

And they began to drift apart. They had separate managers, separate business advisers, separate lawyers. They arrived at concerts in separate cars, stayed in separate hotels, seldom spoke offstage. "It was worse than a bad marriage," says Phil. "That's why we quit, it got to be such a strain. We always got the job done, but we may have pushed it too long and too hard. It was hard to stop it."

"We had 25 years," Don adds. "I don't think I ever would have wished anyone never to have any time apart. The Mills Brothers? There ere four of them. One-on-one is . . . difficult."

Their star descended stateside, but there were spots around the world where the Everly Brothers were "still happening. After the Beatles came over, we had two number-one hits in England that no one ever heard here--'Price of Love' and 'Love is Strange.' Canada. France. The Philippines--there was a radio station there that ran 10 years playing nothing but Everly Brothers material."

Three Everly marriages ended before the brothers split up. They have spent the last years, Phil in California, Don in Nashville, recording solo occasionally, touring even less. Not talking at all, except briefly at their father's funeral. There had been many other offers for reunion concerts, reunion records, reunion tours. All had been turned down.

Until the Albert Hall. "It was . . . safer . . . to do the concert in England," Don admits. "I wanted to do it where I felt the audience would be listening, to give it every break we could, and England was the place to do that." England had remained loyal, and the Everlys had done one of their last concerts at the Albert, with their father joining them on stage.

Unlike Simon and Garfunkel last summer, the Everlys' voices found familial ground again, like psychic twins threading a single needle. No clumsiness. Only harmony. "I knew that my voice was still pretty strong and I didn't figure Phil's had deteriorated. Though you never know. But everything seemed to work for us. It wasn't like a show, it was an experience. Nobody seemed to be hostile about us singing rock 'n' roll any longer."

" 'Narcotic music,' " wails Phil. "I guess that disappeared a long time ago."

The HBO concert, and the live two-record set just released by Passport, offer a number of transcendent moments, the most moving of which is the Everlys' rendition of "Let It Be Me." There's some heartfelt eye contact, as if they realized just how long they had been away, not just from the stage, but from each other.

"We're going to make a studio album in March," says Phil brightly, "and then do a few shows after that."

"There's a few things we want to do," adds Don. "I want to play Europe, then do some fair dates. And we got an offer from Vegas that we just can't refuse," though it's doubtful they'll include Don's "I'm Tired of Singing My Songs in Las Vegas" in the repertoire.

"I love Vegas," says Phil. "I'm going to win all my money back this time.

"As long as we're both alive people are going to want to hear us sing together," he concedes. "I've been trying to live my life so I don't end up in some old folks home, an old man shuffling around in a bathrobe singing 'Bye Bye Love . . . Bye Bye Love.' I don't want to live like that."

They are reminded of a Phil Everly song recorded on his first solo album. The Brothers had never gotten around to it. It's called "Patiently."

"Just as sure as the morning sun

You and I are going to be one

Though you're trying hard not to notice me

But I don't mind, got lots of time

And I'll just go on loving


"That's exactly right," Phil says quietly. "Time straightens out everything. Hopefully."

"Gives you time to look at your mistakes," adds Don.

"We like each other," Phil says, looking at Don. "That's true."