Blake Shelton mourns the passing of eighties country icon Earl Thomas Conley

“My heart is absolutely destroyed today…” Blake Shelton tweeted on Wednesday, after learning of the death of Earl Thomas Conley.

“I’m sad to report that Earl Thomas Conley passed away very early this morning,” Blake continued. “Earl was my all-time favorite singer, hero and my friend.”

“Prayers to his family,” Blake added. “We will all miss you deeply my brother. Now go rest…”

Blake also included what looks to be a fairly recent picture of him singing with ETC.

Earl’s brother told The Tennessean the 77-year-old had been in hospice care for several months, suffering from a dementia-like condition.

In the 1980s, Earl Thomas Conley scored eighteen number one hits, more than any other artist in any genre that decade, except for Alabama and Ronnie Milsap. His signature songs include: “Fire and Smoke,” “Holding Her and Loving You,” “Love Out Loud,” “Nobody Falls Like a Fool,” and “We Believe in Happy Endings,” a duet with Emmylou Harris.

He also recorded “Too Many Times” with Anita Pointer of The Pointer Sisters — one of the only major country hits to feature an African-American female.

ETC’s final country top ten came in 1991 with “Brotherly Love,” his posthumous duet with Keith Whitley.

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