Country Legend Earl Thomas Conley Passes Away at 77


One Country is saddened to report that country music legend and “Thinking Man’s Country” singer Earl Thomas Conley has passed away at the age of 77.

News broke of Earl’s death when Blake Shelton posted a photo and a heartbroken message on Twitter sharing the news. “My heart is absolutely destroyed today,” he wrote. “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 miss you deeply my brother. Now go rest…”

According to the Tennessean, who confirmed the news with Earl’s brother Fred Conley, the country legend suffered from a condition akin to dementia, and had been in hospice care for several months.

“He just kept losing ground,” Fred Conley told the newspaper. “I’m brokenhearted.”


A native of The Buckeye State, Earl first found his voice in the Army where he was part of a performing group. After his service, he struggled in Nashville, eventually moving to Alabama until a second chance in Music City offered him an opportunity in the songwriting community that proved to be quite successful and earned him writing cred for Conway Twitty’s hit “This Time I’ve Hurt Her More Than She Loves Me.”

After redefining himself in the 1970s, Earl found success as a singer with the 1981 No. 1 hit “Fire and Smoke.” HIs unique vocal style put him on a chart topping streak in the 1980s that started with “Your Love’s On the Line” and included his signature smash, “Holding Her and Loving You.” In 1986, he collaborated with R&B star, Anita Pointer, for “Too Many Times,” which reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and positioned the star for an appearance on “Soul Train.”

He also recorded “We Believe In Happy Endings” with Emmylou Harris in 1988 and hit the Top 5 in 1991 with the tender-hearted Moe Bandy hit, “Brotherly Love,” recorded with the late country icon, Keith Whitley. While Blake was a lifelong fan of the golden-voiced singer, he and Earl also co-wrote Blake’s 2002 uber-traditional Top 20 hit “All Over Me” with Michael Pyle.

Our condolences go out to the family, friends, and fellow fans of this immensely talented legend.