Song:Fire and Smoke
Album:The Essential Earl Thomas Conley
Earl Thomas Conley was one of the most popular country music artists of the 80s. Fire and Smoke was his first number one country hit in 1981. He was born Oct. 17, 1941 in Portsmouth, OH. His father worked on the railroad. But when dad lost his job, Conley eventually joined the US Army. And it was there that he got into music. And when Conley was discharged, he moved to Nashville. He co-wrote Smokey Mountain Memories for Mel Street. He released a couple of singles that went nowhere. So Conley moved to Huntsville, AL to work in a steel mill. It was here that he met producer Nelson Larkin and they would work together through the 80s. Larkin signed Conley to GRT Records. But they weren't really a country label and they were having financial problems. The two moved back to Nashville. Larkin started Sunbird Records and released the Conley album Black Pearl in 1980. The idea was to get Conley on a major label and RCA Records came calling. Fire and Smoke was Conley's first RCA album in 1981. The single Fire and Smoke topped the country singles chart. From there, Conley scored a total of 19 number one hits in the 80s. After Alabama and Ronnie Milsap, Conley was the best selling country artist of the 80s. Conley's final number one hit was Love Out Loud in 1989. Then he started to fade and RCA dropped him in 1992. You can get all his hits on this budget comp. Conley still tours and occasionally records. But the record business really burned him out. And he makes enough from songwriting royalties that he doesn't need to do anything that he doesn't want to do. So Earl Thomas Conley may not be at the top of the country charts anymore. But he seems to be happy with that. Here's Earl Thomas Conley performing Fire and Smoke on the Church Street Station TV show in the 80s.