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Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, and others performed this afternoon (9/10) at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville to pay tribute to 1980’s hitmaker Earl Thomas Conley who died in April after a long illness.

Blake and Luke participated in a press conference before the tribute got underway and Luke discussed why it was important to be there today for Conley.

He said, “Just growing up a kid in South Georgia I remember, you know we get so much of our music from our parents and my dad had a Chevrolet pickup truck with a tape player in it. I would say that for five years Earl Thomas Conley’s tape never left the vehicle. So that’s how I found his music.”

Blake shared, “I almost found Earl to be sometimes awkwardly shy I mean to the point where you’d go, ‘Man [how] does he get on stage and sing ’cause he’s so shy.’ It’s crazy. I think looking back Earl never believed he was as good as he really was. I think he had a hard time especially with someone like me who’s so over the top about him. Every time I was around him he was probably like, ‘Get this guy off me’ you know because I was so excited.”

Shelton added, “I remember the first time I went to his house and we wrote a song and I just couldn’t get over the fact that I was sitting there with my personal hero. My favorite singer of all time in any genre of music and I just couldn’t get over how normal he was.”

Luke sang Thomas’ hit “Once In A Blue Moon,” while Blake sang “What I’d Say.”

Other performers paying tribute included Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley (via video), Vince Gill and fellow 1980’s hitmaker John Anderson.