Sunday, March 29, 2020
– Country singer Joe Diffie, who had many hits in the 90s, died today at 61 of coronavirus.
Diffie disclosed on Friday that he had the virus and was being treated for it.
The Tulsa, Okla. native has recorded such hits as : "Home," "If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)," "New Way (To Light Up An Old Flame)," "Ships That Don't Come In," "Honky Tonk Attitude," "Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox," "John Deere Green," "Third Rock From The Sun," "Pickup Man," "So Help Me Girl," "Bigger Than The Beatles," "Texas Size Heartache," "A Night To Remember" and "It's Always Somethin'."
He was a neo-traditionalist country singer, who also enjoyed hits with novelty songs.
Eighteen of Diffie's singles landed in the Top 10 on the country charts, with five going number 1. He won a Grammy Award for best country collaboration for the song "Same Old Train," with Merle Haggard, Marty Stuart and others.
Diffie released seven studio albums, a Christmas album and a greatest-hits package at Epicl. He also released one studio album each with Monument Records, Broken Bow Records and Rounder Records.
"Honky Tonk Attitude" in 1993 and "Third Rock from the Sun" the following year were certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. He went Gold with 1992's "Regular Joe" and 1995's "Life's So Funny." "Homecoming: The Bluegrass Album" was his final album, having been released in 2010 through Rounder.
Diffie was born on Dec.28, 1958 in Tulsa. His parents were musical, and he started playing as a youth. After dropping out of college, he worked in the oil fields and poured concrete as well. On the side he played music, including country and bluegrass. He began sending songs to publishers. Hank Thompson recorded Diffie's "Love on the Rocks," and Randy Travis put one of Diffie's songs on hold, but ultimately did not record it.
Life turned sour for Diffie as the foundry where he worked closed, he had to sell a home studio,
and he and his wife divorced. Eventually, he moved to Nashville.
Diffie started working at Gibson Guitars, while also cutting more demos. Soon, Ricky Van Shelton, Billy Dean, Alabama, and the Forester Sisters would record his songs. He left Gibson to record demos full-time. He was contacted by Bob Montgomery, a songwriter and record producer known for working with Buddy Holly.
Montgomery, who was a vice president of A&R at Epic, told Diffie he wanted to sign him, but would have to wait. Diffie enjoyed further songwriting success, having co-written the Holly Dunn hit "There Goes My Heart Again." By 1990, Diffie signed with Epic.
His album, "A Thousand Winding Roads," came out later that year with his first single, "Home," reaching the top. He also had hits with "If You Want Me To" and "New Way (To Light Up an Old Flame)." "If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)" also went to number one.
Diffie followed that up with "Regular Joe" in 1992, yielding hits with "Is It Cold in Here" and "Ships That Don't Come In."
The following year, "Honky Tonk Attitude" was filled with hits, including "Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die)" and "John Deere Green." Diffie was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and won that year's Country Music Association award for Vocal Event of the Year, for their guest vocals on George Jones's "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair." Tim McGraw recorded two of his songs for his debut album.
The hits continued for Diffie with his album "Third Rock from the Sun" with the title truck and "Pick Up Man" hits, the latter spending four weeks at number one, the most successful of Diffie's singles.
His last chart topper was "Bigger Than the Beatles" from 1995's "Life So Tough."
Diffie recorded several more albums for Epic with far less success and eventually switched to Broken Bow Records, releasing "Tougher Than Nails" in 2004.
Diffie's final release, "Homecoming: The Bluegrass Album," came out on Rounder in 2010.
Jason Aldean namechecked Diffie in his single "1994."
Diffie was married four times and leaves five children.
Toby Keith said of Diffie, "We are feeling it now. Oklahoma boy Joe Diffie has passed away from this virus. My kids grew up around his parents. My prayers will be with his family. A great traditional voice will live on cuz I'm putting his music on now. Here's a beer to ya, Joe. Go get your reward."
"I was saddened to hear that my friend and fellow Grand Ole Opry member Joe Diffie passed away today," said Ricky Skaggs. "Joe was a great singer, songwriter, and entertainer that left his mark in Country Music. His clear voice and unique singing style made him immediately recognizable. We will all certainly miss him."
Collin Raye was a label mate of Diffie's. "I am deeply saddened at the news of Joe Diffie's death. He and I were label mates on Sony Epic Records for many years. We worked together a lot over the years. I can honestly say that Joe was one of the truly good guys in our business. A real gentleman, and obviously, one of the greatest country music singers who ever lived. His records, 'Home' and 'Ships That Don't Come In' are among my favorite records of all time. I am honored, and humbled, to have known him. May God Bless and comfort Joe's family and welcome him into eternity. We'll miss you, Brother."
Singer Colt Ford said, "I really stopped in my tracks for the first time when I got the news of Joe passing away. We spoke a week ago and he said, 'Don't worry, Colt, I'm gonna be fine.'" He was one of the best country singers I have ever heard, and an even better guy. Rest Easy, Joe."