Country singer Earl Thomas Conley dead at 77

Earl Thomas Conley, the country music singer known for 1980s chart-toppers such as "Holding Her and Loving You" and "Right From the Start," has died at age 77, multiple news outlets are reporting.

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According to The Tennessean, Conley, who suffered from a dementia-like illness, died just after midnight Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee, following months of hospice care, said his brother, Fred Conley.

During his music career, 18 of Conley's songs reached No. 1 on the Billboard country charts.

The Portsmouth, Ohio, native leaves behind three daughters and one son, two brothers, two sisters and five grandchildren, the Tennessean reported.

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Fans and fellow country music stars, including Blake Shelton, Toby Keith and Charlie Daniels, paid tribute to Conley on Twitter.

"My heart is absolutely destroyed today ... I'm sad to report that Earl Thomas Conley passed away very early this morning," Shelton tweeted. "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 ..."

>> See Shelton's tweet here

"An all time great," wrote Keith. "Earl Thomas Conley passed away today. Huge influence on me. Loved him. Prayers to his family."

>> See his post here

Daniels called Conley a "great country singer."

"Rest in peace," he added.

>> See the tweet here

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