Blake: Tribute to Earl Thomas Conley

Blake performed and spoke at a concert in tribute to and in memory of the late Earl Thomas Conley at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN. Blake played an acoustic rendition ‘What’d I Say’ and participated in a group performance of ‘Don’t Make It Easy For Me’, and was singled out for thanks by members of Earl’s family.

Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and More Perform in Memory of Earl Thomas Conley


Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean were among the stars performing in memory of Earl Thomas Conley at an invitation-only concert at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Tuesday. Earl passed away this past April in Nashville, and this concert was organized to remember his lasting influence on country music. Earl Thomas’s road band backed up many of the performers on the bill, also including John Anderson, Joe Diffie, Neal McCoy, bluegrass star Dale Ann Bradley, Wade Hayes and Earl Thomas Conley’s daughter Erinn Skates. 

Blake has often cited Earl Thomas as his biggest musical influence. He was instrumental in organizing this tribute concert since the late singer didn’t want a funeral, which was in keeping with Earl Thomas’s shy nature.

Blake said, “I always found Earl to be, sometimes, almost an awkwardly shy guy to the point where you’d go, ‘Does he get onstage and sing?’ He’s so shy. Looking back, Earl never believed he was good as he really was as a singer and songwriter. He didn’t have that in his DNA. He was a very talented guy. I truly did worship him.”

Blake recalled getting the call about his hero’s passing from Earl’s wife, Carol, and then breaking down over the news shortly after during a conversation with girlfriend Gwen Stefani.

He said, “I’ll never forget. I was on my four-wheeler. I was pulling a seed broadcaster, and I just started crying. I got on the phone with Gwen and said, ‘I can’t believe…’ I wasn’t surprised that he passed away. I knew he had some health problems and had been for awhile.”

Though Earl Thomas racked up 18 No. 1 hits over the course of his career, Blake was worried that Earl’s legacy would be forgotten.

Said Blake, “I told Gwen, ‘I think I’m sad because I’m afraid nobody’s going to remember Earl.”

Blake was very happy when Carol called to tell him they were doing the tribute concert, and he immediately called dibs on singing “What I’d Say.” Before he performed the song, Blake shared this hilarious and heartfelt story about his first meeting with Earl and their ongoing relationship.