On April 10, at 12:20 a.m., the world lost a country singer who’s been described as “unique” and “soulful,” and whose impact on other artists and the world at large will not soon be forgotten.
Earl Thomas Conley’s health had been declining for several years, concerning friends and family as he struggled with a dementia-like condition and eventually required hospice care.
“He just kept losing ground,” his brother Fred Conley said, according to the Tennessean. “I’m brokenhearted.”
The country singer hit his stride in 1974 after taking a shine to the genre while serving in the Army and signing first with GRT and then with Warner Bros. Many knew him for songs like “I Can’t Win For Losin’ You,” “Holding Her and Loving You,” and “Dreamin’s All I Do.”
“He was on a lot of Hank Williams Jr.’s dates when Hank was Entertainer of the Year five years in a row,” Rob Battle, Conley’s booking agent, said. “He always delivered. There was as much if not more crowd response for Earl.”
“There was such soul in everything he did, and he stood out from a lot of other singers that were around at that time,” Joe Galante, a music industry executive who worked with Conley, said. “You always talk about finding something unique and his voice certainly did that.
“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.”
Blake Shelton tweeted a heartbreaking message when he learned that his friend and idol had passed away Wednesday at 77 years old in Nashville, Tennessee.
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… pic.twitter.com/W75ZVV6fbe
— Blake Shelton (@blakeshelton) April 10, 2019
Gwen Stefani replied to Shelton’s Tweet, adding “thank u for introducing me to this beautiful artist #iloveusomuch #learningsomuchfromyou – RIP Earl Thomas Conley #angelindisguise ?? gx.”
T.G. Sheppard also paid his respects, recognizing the musician’s talent and impact on the world.
“There are artists in our business that are great singers and stylists that you recognize, but just ever so often there are those special artists that have that voice that you know instantly when you hear the first word,” he said.
“Earl Thomas was one of those voices. And, he was always such a kind man. Once again, it’s going to leave a void in country music to lose a legendary artist such as him.”
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