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Earl Thomas Conley Biography


Home > Music > E > Earl Thomas Conley > Biography


Birth Name: Earl
Born: 1941/10/17
Birth Place: Portsmouth, Ohio, USA
Years Active: 1974-present
Genres: Country


Earl Thomas Conley was born October 17, 1941 in Portsmouth, Ohio and is a country music singer and songwriter. When Conley was 14, his father lost his job with the railroad, forcing the young boy to move in with his older sister in Dayton, Ohio. He was offered a scholarship to an art school, but rejected it in favor of joining the U.S. Army. While in the Army, Conley became a member of a Christian-influenced trio.

In 1968, after his discharge from the Army, Conley began commuting from Dayton to Nashville. He began playing in clubs in Nashville at night, supporting himself working blue-collar jobs during the day.

Feeling that he wasn't making any progress in Nashville, Conley moved to Huntsville, Alabama to work in a steel mill. There, he met record producer Nelson Larkin, who helped him sign with independent record label GRT in 1974. Conley released four singles on that label, none of which became large hits. At the same time, he was selling songs that he had written to other artists, including Conway Twitty and Mel Street, who were having much success with them.

Conley returned to Nashville, now writing for Larkin's publishing house. In 1979, he signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records. Two years later, he had his first Top 40 hit, “Dreamin's All I Do.” He left the label in 1979 and joined Sunbird Records, where he again worked with Larkin. This time, Conley found success, with a Top 10 and a #1 single within the next two years.

He continued to have success over the next few years, and in 1983, he was nominated for multiple Grammy Awards for his song “Holding Her and Loving You.” He set a record the following year as the first artist in any genre to have four #1 singles from the same album. By the end of the 1980s, Conley began collaborating with Randy Scruggs (son of legendary country singer Earl Scruggs), in the hopes that he could bring his music back to his country roots.

His record sales began to drop in the 1990s, as country music took a more traditional turn, and Conley was dropped from his record label in 1992. He took a seven-year recording hiatus between 1991 and 1997 due to a number of factors, including vocal problems, disenchantment with record label politics, road fatigue, and mental burnout. He began recording again in 1998.

In 2002, Blake Shelton charted in the Top 20 with “All Over Me,” which Conley co-wrote with Shelton and songwriter Mike Pyle.