Country Singer-Songwriter Earl Thomas Conley Dies

Earl Thomas Conley

Acclaimed country singer-songwriter Earl Thomas Conley passed away today (April 10). He was 77.

Conley had 18 No. 1 hits in the 1980s and 1990s, including “Holding Her and Loving You,” “Nobody Falls Like a Fool,” “What I’d Say” and “Once in a Blue Moon.” Conley set a record with his 1984 album, Don’t Make It Easy for Me, when he became the first artist in any genre to have four number one singles from the same album.

Born October 17, 1941, in Portsmouth, Ohio, Conley joined a Christian trio while in the Army. Once he was discharged, he worked a number of blue-collar jobs and played in Nashville clubs at night. Conley then moved to Huntsville, Alabama to work in a steel mill, where he met Nelson Larkin who got him a deal at the independent label GRT in 1974. Conley later signed to Warner Bros. in 1977 where he landed his first Top 40 single, “Dreamin’s All I Do.” He left the label in 1979, and went to Sunbird Records to work with Larkin again. Conley quickly scored a Top 10 hit with “Silent Treatment” and then his first of 18 No. 1 songs, “Fire and Smoke,” in 1981. RCA signed Conley shortly after.

At RCA, Conley had plenty of singles shoot up the charts including hits “Tell Me Why” and “Heavenly Bodies.”

By the end of the 1980s, Conley found a collaborator in bluegrass extraordinaire Earl Scruggs’ son, Randy Scruggs. He also worked closely with Keith Whitley, releasing a duet with him called “Brotherly Love,” which earned the two a CMA nomination after Whitley had passed.

Collaborator and friend, Blake Shelton, shared the news via Twitter. His caption reads: “My heart is absolutely destroyed today… 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..”

Funeral announcements have not been released at press time.

Blake Shelton and Earl Thomas Conley. Photo: Twitter/@Blake Shelton


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LB Cantrell is Project Manager at MusicRow magazine. She heads up specific, large-scale projects for the company and assists in day-to-day tasks. LB also manages the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart and contributes editorial for both the print and online platforms. She joined MusicRow full time in January of 2019, after interning and working part time for the company for a year. She is from Blairsville, Georgia and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Music Business degree in 2018.

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