Earl Thomas Conley Dies; Country Singer, Blake Shelton's "Hero" Was 77

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Sad news out of the world of country music today, as multiple sources have confirmed that beloved artist Earl Thomas Conley has passed away.

He was 77 years old.

Blake Shelton and Earl Thomas Conley Photo

Best known for such 1980s hits as “Holding Her and Loving You,” “What I’d Say” and “Once In a Blue Moon,” Conley reportedly died in Nashville on Wednesday morning.

The singer's passing was announced by his longtime friend and frequent collaborator, Blake Shelton.

“My heart is absolutely destroyed today," Shelton wrote on his social media accounts.

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"I’m sad to report that Earl Thomas Conley passed away very early this morning.”

Shelton and Conley had been friends for over 20 years.

The duo worked together writing Blake's “All Over Me” along with Michael Pyle.

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“Earl was my all time favorite singer, hero and my friend. Prayers to his family," Shelton continued.

"We will all miss you deeply my brother. Now go rest…”

Conley had been in hospice care for several months and had been suffering from a degenerative condition described as being "similar to dementia" for several years.

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Speaking with The Tennessean, Earl's brother, Fred Conley, stated that the singer's death had been a slow and heartbreaking process.

“He just kept losing ground,” Fred stated. “I’m brokenhearted.”

Earl's 22-year-old daughter Erinn Scates, who is also a musician, sang her father's praises to the newspaper:

“He was a great dad, and he filled our lives with color,” she said.

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Shortly after signing with Warner Bros. in 1980, Conley recorded his first hit, “Dreamin’s All I Do," which quickly reached the Billboard Top 40.

From there, Conley produced several more hits and racked up multiple Grammy nominations.

Over the course of his career, Conley recorded 10 albums over 30 of his singles listed on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs.

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While Shelton may have been his closest friend in the industry, several other country music A-listers have paid tribute to Conley in the hours since his passing.

"I am so sad to hear this news. ETC you will be greatly missed,” Trisha Yearwood wrote on social media,

“So sad to hear #EarlThomasConley passed away today,” wrote John Rich of Big & Rich.

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“He was a huge influence on my style and songwriting. I studied his records like textbooks and could play every note of every song. Truly one of the all time greats in country music.”

The sentiment was echoed by Jason Aldean, who tweeted:

“RIP ‘ETC’… Man what a voice this guy had. Spent many nights listening and playing his songs. Country Music lost a great one today guys. #EarlThomasConley #ETC” 

Our thoughts go out to Conley's loved ones during this difficult time.

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