We were saddened to read of the passing of Earl Thomas Conley, who passed away yesterday after a decades-long fight with dementia. Country listeners may remember him for his distinctive look; replete with feathered and permed hairdo, a neatly trimmed beard and the occasional mullet to match, he was “country” in a blatantly unapologetic commercial way, looking more like a male model wearing designer “work” clothes that had never seen a speck of dirt. To many, he represented what was wrong with modern country music. Yet alongside his slick appearance, he had the hits to back it up; he charted an impressive run of eighteen Number One hit singles in the 1980s. Yet he virtually walked away from his career at the end of the decade, releasing only two studio albums, the last of which appeared in 1998, his legendary superstar career largely forgotten by all but the most dedicated country music listeners. Unsurprisingly for such a blatantly commercial artist, his hits were hit or miss pop tunes vaguely recognizable as country, but it was hard to resist the charm of certain numbers, and for yours truly it was his 1985 single “Love Don’t Care (Whose Heart It Breaks).” It does what good pop does; it tells a relatable story that naturally would appeal to a wide audience. Earl Thomas Conley was 77.