Country singer Earl Thomas Conley, who sang ‘Holding Her and Loving You,’ died at the age of 77
Country singer Earl Thomas Conley, known for his hit songs including “Her Holding and Loving You,” “What I’ll Say” and “Right From the Start,” died at 12:20 a.m. Wednesday morning in Nashville, his brother Fred Conley justify.
The singer has a condition similar to dementia, his brother said, and has been hospitalized for several months.
“He keeps losing his place,” said Fred Conley. “I am brokenhearted.”
Erinn Scates, 22, Earl’s youngest child Thomas Conley, said, “He is a great father, and he fills our lives with color.”
“I can always count on Father to save me from life when life is not always perfect,” said the singer’s oldest daughter Amy Edmisten, 50. Her son Ty Conley, 55, added: “My hero.”
Conley helps influence the current generation of country singers. After hearing of his death, Blake Shelton tweeted that his heart was “completely destroyed.”
“Earl is my singer, hero, and favorite friend,” Shelton said. “Prayers for his family. We will all miss you very much my brother. Now rest …”
During his career, Conley had 18 country hit No. 1 and 25 top 10 songs.
Conley was born October 17, 1941, in Portsmouth, Ohio. According to his biography at allmusic.com, Conley’s father worked for the train and the prospective singer left home at the age of 14 when his father lost his job. In the coming years, Conley lives with her sister and refuses an art school scholarship to join the Army. He fell in love with country music during his military service.
“He decided he needed to grow up, and the Army was the best place to do that,” said Carole Scates, mother of two of Conley’s youngest children and colleagues for more than two decades. “He said the Army was the best thing he had ever done, that he changed from being a punk boy to an adult who has a great work ethic. He can do anything. His talent is unlimited.”
After leaving, Conley came to Central Tennessee, where he worked on a series of daily jobs and played shows at Nashville bars at night. With little success, he moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where he met producer Nelson Larkin and signed a contract with the independent GRT record label in 1974. Three years later, he signed a contract with Warner Bros., but it was not until 1979 that he charted the first . top 40 hit, “Dreamin’s All I Do.”
The songs included “I Can’t Win for Losin ‘You,” “Once in a Blue Moon” and “That Was a Close One” helped him become a household name for country music fans.
In the early 1980s, Joe Galante helped RCA Records when the company bought Sunbird Records, where Conley was signed. Galante said the opportunity to work with Conley encouraged purchases. RCA Records is the label for Conley’s home for most of his country’s musical success.
“There is a soul like that in everything he does, and he stands out from many other singers at the time,” Galante said. “You always talk about finding something unique, and the voice of course does that. He has a mix … a very country approach, very sensitive, intimate for his music, and you can hear pain in everything he does. Then at the same time, he came to shake something else and there was a man who just loved having fun. You can hear it in music. ”
The booking agent Conley Rob Battle said that because of this health, the singer stopped touring about two years ago. However, Battle, who worked with Conley for more than two decades, described it as “extraordinary” at the height of his career.
“He’s been dating a lot with Hank Williams Jr. when Hank became this year’s Entertainer five years in a row,” Battle said. “He always sends. There are more, if not, more crowd responses for Earl.”
Country singer T.G. Sheppard shared the stage with Conley on many occasions and said that every time it happened, he felt “blessed.”
“There are artists in our business who are great singers and stylists that you recognize, but often there are special artists who have that voice that you know firsthand when you hear the first word,” Sheppard said. “Earl Thomas is one of those voices. And, he’s always a kind person. Again, that will leave a void in country music to lose a legendary artist like him.”
Conley left four adult children, Ty Conley, Amy Edmisten, Kat Scates, and Erinn Scates; their mother, Sandra Conley and Carole Scate; brothers Fred Conley and Steve Conley; sister of Ronda Hodges and Becky Miller; and five grandchildren.
Carole Scates said Conley didn’t want a funeral. His body was donated to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He said there was a possibility of celebrating life in his honor in the coming months.