A country legend has left us. Earl Thomas Conley passed away just after midnight on April 10, at 77 years old.
The country singer had been under hospice care for several months for an illness similar to dementia. His brother, Fred Conley, confirmed the news in The Tennessean.
“He just kept losing ground,” he said. “I’m brokenhearted.”
And Conley’s brother wasn’t the only one left devastated by the news. The country community has taken to social media to mourn the loss of a singer known for hits such as “Holding Her and Loving You” and “Once in a Blue Moon.”
Listen to one of Conley’s hit songs from his official YouTube channel:
Blake Shelton was one of the first to write a remembrance of his fellow musician, idol and friend.
“My heart is absolutely destroyed today,” Shelton said in an Instagram post. “I’m sad to report that Earl Thomas Conley passed away very early this morning. Earl was my all time favorite singer, hero and my friend. Prayers to his family. We will all miss you deeply my brother. Now go rest …”:
It wasn’t long before other musicians began singing praises of Conley and his contribution to the country music industry.
In a tweet, Toby Keith remembered Conley as an “all time great” and a “huge influence”:
An all time great. Earl Thomas Conley passed away today. Huge influence on me. Loved him. Prayers to his family. -T
— Toby Keith (@tobykeith) April 10, 2019
And Steve Wariner took a moment on Twitter to appreciate the fact that Conley “made great records … and left them here for all to enjoy.”
Saddened by this news of the passing of Earl Thomas Conley. We played many shows together, had battles on the charts and were label mates at RCA. He surely made great records… and left them here for all to enjoy. Rest In Peace my old friend. pic.twitter.com/HvOApHo9KP
— Steve Wariner (@stevewariner) April 10, 2019
John Rich of Big & Rich recalled how much he looked up to Conley, writing in a tweet, “I studied his records like text books and could play every note of every song.”
So sad to hear #EarlThomasConley passed away today. He was a huge influence on my style and songwriting. I studied his records like text books and could play every note of every song. Truly one of the all time greats in country music. #RipEarlThomasConleyhttps://t.co/IRwrhcPf2p
— John Rich (@johnrich) April 10, 2019
Clearly, Conley left his mark on the country music world.
Joe Galante, who was the head of RCA Records when Conley was signed, told The Tennessean that Conley’s success in the industry could be credited to the way he stood out from other singers at the time.
“You always talk about finding something unique, and his voice certainly did that,” Galante said. “He had this mix of … a very country, very sensitive, intimate approach to his music, and you could hear the ache in everything that he did. Then at the same time, he’d come rocking out on something else and there was this guy who just loved to have a good time. You could just hear it in the music.”
Conley is survived by four siblings, four children, five grandchildren and an entire world of country music fans who will not soon forget his legacy.
Rest in peace, Conley.