It was like a punch to the gut to hear of the passing of Earl Thomas Conley early Wednesday morning in Nashville. He was one of the first country stars who I absolutely loved.  I loved his voice and his songs.  Incorporating synthesizer into many of his songs, he was one of the first country artists who was a bridge from traditional country to what it is today.

When we're on the air and a song is playing we're always working on preparing our next break or taking phone calls.  We seldom have a chance to sit back and listen to the music, but with Earl Thomas Conley I always found time to sing along.

And what a career.  He had 38 chart singles and from 1981 to 1989 he had 18 singles go to Number 1.   He had a stretch of 9 straight releases that went to Number-1 and except for one release that reached Number-2, he would have had 17 straight singles hit the top of the charts.

In the early days of WYRK Earl Thomas Conley along with Ronnie Milsap, Reba McEntire, Oak Ridge Boys, Alabama, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Jr., Ricky Skaggs, George Strait, John Conlee and John Anderson were emblematic of the sound of our radio station.  Those were some great days and it's incredible how quickly those years have passed.

Some other sites have put together collages of what they say were Earl Thomas Conley's biggest hits.  If you want to base it on numbers, fine, but if I had to put together a short list of my favorite ETC songs, in no particular order these would be among my Top 5.

  • 1

    Silent Treatment

  • 2

    Heavenly Bodies

  • 3

    Angel In Disguise

  • 4

    Fire and Smoke

  • 5

    Your Love's On the Line

  • 6

    Holding Her and Loving You

    (I couldn't decide on just 5, so here's a bonus