The country music world is in mourning after the death of Joe Diffie on Sunday, only hours after his publicist confirmed he tested positive for the coronavirus. Diffie, who recorded dozens of hit singles during the 1990s, was 61. He was a member of the Grand Ole Opry and was famously name-checked in Jason Aldean's 2013 hit "1994."
On Friday, Diffie's representative told Fox News the singer tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. "My family and I are asking for privacy at this time," Diffie added in the statement. "We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic." On Sunday, Diffie's publicist confirmed his death to Rolling Stone.
Diffie was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and quickly developed an interest in playing music. However, it was not until 1990 that he began finding success with his major label debut, A Thousand Winding Roads, released in 1990. From then on, he released hit after hit, charting with songs like "Home," "If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)," "Third Rock from the Sun," "Pickup Man," "Bigger Than The Beatles," "John Deere Green" and "Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox (If I Die)." He went on to win a Grammy in 1998 for "Same Old Train," a collaboration with Marty Stuart.
The singer's final album was Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie, a collection featuring new recordings of 11 of his hit singles. The album was released in November. He also released the single "As Long As There's a Bar" in July 2019.
'RIP Pickup Man'
2020... damn. RIP Pickup Man. So sad. We lost Joe Diffie— Cole Swindell (@coleswindell) March 29, 2020
When he decided what songs record, Diffie took a really simple outlook. "I just like the songs themselves," he told Rolling Stone last year. "I went that route — finding songs I really liked and that I related to. Really, it's not any more complicated than that."
RIP to the great Joe Diffie . We became buds over the last couple of years . It’s always great getting to know the people you were a fan of as a kid. That was absolutely the case w JD. Joe died of Coronavirus complications pic.twitter.com/uBZ0hw9kYQ— Bobby Bones (@mrBobbyBones) March 29, 2020
'Sincere Condolences to His Family
Just got word that Joe Diffie has passed away.— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) March 29, 2020
Sincere condolences to his family
It’s such a shock and such a loss for Country Music
Rest In Peace Joe
Diffie's music earned revived interest in 2012 when Aldean released "1994." The song name-checked Diffie and included references to his songs.
"When I heard it, I was stunned," Diffie told CMT in 2012. "I was like. 'You gotta be kidding me.' It's pretty flattering they went that far with it. It's one thing to hear a song title or your name mentioned, but when it started into the 'Joe. Joe. Joe Diffie' part, that's cool right there."
Man RIP Joe Diffie. A staple for so much about what I love in country music. This shit is real y’all. Please stay home and stay safe.— Travis Denning (@Travis_Denning) March 29, 2020
'This Is a Tough One'
Diffie's team also shared the sad news on his Isntagram page. "It's with a sad heart that I have to post this," his representative wrote.
Joe Diffie man.... Our love for mullets made me feel connected to you in a special way. Rest easy brother— morgan wallen (@MorganWallen) March 29, 2020
'Our Hearts Go Out to His Family'
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"Damn. Country star Joe Diffie has passed at 61 from complications resulting from Covid 19, aka the Coronavirus. Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and fans," one country music fan site wrote on Instagram.
"My deepest condolences to his family and friends," one fan added on Instagram. "What a huge loss to the country music world. He was a pioneer. Rest In Peace."prevnext
'Your Music Was a Huge Part of the Backdrop of my Teens'
RIP Joe Diffie. Your music was a huge part of the backdrop of my late teens. All of the chaos, indeed.March 29, 2020
Many fans shared their favorite Diffie songs and the impact he had on their lives.
“Remember kid, there's heroes and there's legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die.” Rest in Peace to the one and only Joe Diffie. #pickupman— Henry Ferrel (@ferrel_henry) March 29, 2020
'Tough Past Week for Country Music'
Kenny Rogers and now Joe Diffie? Come on man, tough past week for country music 😕— AJ (@Crider_AJ) March 29, 2020
Several country music fans noted how difficult this month has been. Diffie's death comes just after Kenny Rogers died on March 20.
2020 has been a crap year. The gut wrenching helicopter crash from hell, this virus, tornadoes, no sports, Kenny Rogers, and now Joe Diffie. Ugh.— Amanda (@armac2010) March 29, 2020
Photo credit: Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images for Country Thunderprev