The Everly Brothers mural. (KMA photo)

Construction is underway on a giant mural bearing the likenesses of Don and Phil Everly on Highway 2 in southwest Iowa, alerting tourists to the Everly Brothers Childhood Home in Shenandoah.

California artist John Cerney created the mural, which he says targets motorists who may not know of the brothers’ rich history, and how the duo parlayed performances as young children on KMA radio in the 1940s to music stardom as rock-and-roll pioneers in the 1950s and ’60s.

“This is really meant more for people who are not from the area,” Cerney says, “who were either passing through somewhere else and took Highway 2 and realized, ‘Whoa, the Everly Brothers? I had no idea.’ Maybe some people know off the top of their heads where John Wayne is from, in Winterset, Iowa, but not everybody knew that the Everly Brothers’ formative years were spent in Shenandoah.”

Cerney, the creator of similar signs in southwest Iowa, says the mural is more eyecatching than the run-of-the-mill billboards dotting the countryside. “If this was on a billboard, on a rectangle, people wouldn’t notice it as much,” he said. “When you take the time to cut it out — and cut out the spaces between the guitars — they look real, and you cannot help but say, ‘Whoa!’ Your eyes are riveted. That guy that just drove by, he wouldn’t have noticed it if it was on a billboard but he stopped and looked.”

For an Everlys Brothers’ fans like Cerney, the mural is a labor of love. “I wasn’t quite a teenager in their formative years — in the late ’50’s and early ’60’s,” said Cerney, “but I loved their sound, I love their harmony. I mean, Paul McCartney and several other bands, Simon and Garfunkel, owe a lot to the Everly Brothers for their harmony.” Cerney and two assistants plan to return to the mural today  for waterproofing and other finishing touches.

Shenandoah Chamber and Industry Association officials hope visitors will stop by the Everly Brothers house during Shenfest weekend in late September.

(By Mike Peterson, KMA, Shenandoah)