Earl Thomas Conley - lead vocals, guitar; Shannon Fontaine - lead guitar, vocals; Kyle Fredrick - lead guitar; J.D. Williamson - bass; Fred Williamson - saxophone, vocals; Tommy McGovern - keyboards; Bill Watts - drums
Earl Thomas Conley never became a household name outside of country music circles, but he should have. He is certainly as good as many of the country acts of this period (i.e., Randy Travis and Travis Tritt) who were able to move outside of a purely country fan base.
This is one of several shows recorded for the Silver Eagle Cross Country Radio series, and features several of his biggest hits and best-loved album tracks, among them: "If You Want to go to Heaven," "Fire and Smoke," "Heavenly Bodies," "Holding Her and Loving You," and "Smokey Mountain Memories."
After growing up in a poor environment and serving a term in the military, Conley returned home with a love of guitar playing, songwriting, and the growing country-rock scene. He was signed in 1977 to Warner Brothers Records, but failed to see any substantial commercial success. He left Warner in 1979 to sign with the independent Sunbird label, which had showed a tremendous amount of interest. And when they pushed his next record over the 50,000 unit mark, he suddenly found himself being pursued by RCA Records, the leading country label at the time. Conley signed with RCA in 1981 and remained with them for over a decade. While at RCA, he was among the label's biggest country stars.
Conley saw his biggest success in country music between 1983 and 1992, with 1984 (the year this recording was made) as the pinnacle. His ascent is not unlike the rags-to-riches tales of other country artists. After a stint in the military, Conley learned the guitar and embarked on a lifelong devotion to country music. He worked several blue-collar jobs, moonlighting at night in honkytonks as a struggling songwriter. When Conway Twitty finally recorded one of his songs and took it to the top of the country charts, Nashville started to listen.
Conley is no longer charting with top-10 country hits, but he has remained active on the road. He continues to perform in theaters, large country clubs, and outdoor fairs.