"My heart is absolutely destroyed today... " said Shelton, who broke the news on social media. "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...
"RIP Earl Thomas Conley...," wrote Chris Young. "Sad day for country music."
RIP Earl Thomas Conley... sad day for country music pic.twitter.com/bxgEIlbSJU— ChrisYoungMusic (@ChrisYoungMusic) April 10, 2019
An all time great," said Toby Keith. "Earl Thomas Conley passed away today. Huge influence on me. Loved him. Prayers to his family."
"Rest In Peace singing brother Earl Thomas Conley gone this morning at age 77 ... so very sad," said the Oak Ridge Boys.
So sad to hear #EarlThomasConley passed away today. He was a huge influence on my style and songwriting. I studied his records like text books and could play every note of every song. Truly one of the all time greats in country music. #RipEarlThomasConleyhttps://t.co/IRwrhcPf2p— John Rich (@johnrich) April 10, 2019
"So sad to hear [Earl Thomas Conley] passed away today," John Rich said. "He was a huge influence on my style and songwriting. I studied his records like text books and could play every note of every song. Truly one of the all time greats in country music. [Rip Earl Thomas Conley]"
"Very sad to hear about the passing of Earl Thomas Conley," the Bellamy Brothers said. "[prayers] to his family [once in a blue moon] [rest in peace]"
Shelton has openly admitted that he would not be the artist he is without the influence of Conley.
"I always loved Earl Thomas Conley, but it wasn't until I was about 18 that I really started to appreciate what a great singer he was," Shelton told PEOPLE. "He has a song called 'What I'd Say' that really takes me back. I'd listen to that thing a million times, just by myself in my studio apartment in Nashville, just trying to sing that. I wanted to sing like him, because I knew if I could, I maybe could make it one day."
Shelton thanked Conley from stage in 2014, while accepting the CMA Awards trophy for Male Vocalist of the Year – a gesture that touched Conley deeply.
"I noticed Earl Thomas Conley had never won that award. I don't know, it struck me," Shelton recalled. "I just assumed that surely he must have, because he's my favorite he has to be the winner right? That night I happened to win Male Vocalist of the Year, and so I mentioned his name on stage and dedicated the award to him. He's just an incredible vocalist and, I feel like, underrated."0comments
"He said it had been a lot of years since he had heard his name mentioned from that stage," Shelton added.
Photo Credit: Facebook/blakeshelton