April 11 (UPI) — Country music star Earl Thomas Conley, who released 18 No. 1 country hit singles — including “Holding Her and Loving You” — has died at the age of 77.

Conley’s brother Fred Conley confirmed to The Tennessean that the singer died on Wednesday in Nashville. He had a condition similar to dementia and was in hospice care.

Blake Shelton, who often called Conley his hero, also confirmed the performer’s death on Instagram Wednesday.

“My heart is absolutely destroyed today…I’m sad to report that Earl Thomas Conley passed away very early this morning. Early was my all time favorite singer, hero and my friend. Prayers to his family We all miss you deeply my brother. Now go rest…,” Shelton said alongside a photo of himself singing with Conley.

Conley released a string of hits throughout the 1980s including “Fire and Smoke,” “Somewhere Between Right and Wrong,” “Once in Blue Moon,” “We Believe in Happy Endings” with Emmylou Harris and “Love Out Loud,” among many others.

Conley also wrote Shelton’s Top 20 hit “All Over Me” in 2002 and Conway Twitty‘s “This Time I’ve Hurt Her More Than She Loves” in 1970 which reach No. 1.

Conley is survived by his four children, two brothers, two sisters and five grandchildren.

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