Country Hitmaker Earl Thomas Conley Dies At 77

Country singer-songwriter Earl Thomas Conley died early Wednesday of complications of dementia. He was 77.

“My heart is absolutely destroyed today,” Blake Shelton shared in a Facebook message. “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…”

Shelton had a hit in 2002 with “All Over Me,” which was co-written with Conley.

Conley recorded 10 studio albums between 1980 and 2003 that spawned 18 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

He is best known for tracks like “Holding Her and Loving You,” “Right From the Start” and “Love Out Loud.” Nine singles went to No. 1 on the Canadian country chart.

Tributes are pouring in on social media.

"I grew up being obsessed with country music in the early - mid 80s. This guy was one of the best," shared Canadian country star Terri Clark. "You will be missed Earl Thomas Conley."

On Twitter, Toby Keith remembered Conley as "an all time great" and a "huge influence on me." John Rich of Big & Rich shared: "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."

Clay Walker tweeted: "Earl Thomas Conley was the reason i became a country singer ... He was the most soulful singer country music has ever known. My thoughts are with his family, especially his children. Thank you Earl for blessing us all who love this wonderful music we live."