Joe Diffie performs at the Watershed Music Festival 2014
Photo: Suzi Pratt/FilmMagic
Joe Diffie, Country Music Veteran And GRAMMY Winner, Dies From Coronavirus At 61
Joe Diffie, a GRAMMY-winning country music veteran, died Sunday (March 29) due to complications from COVID-19. The singer announced his coronavirus diagnosis Friday (March 27), according to Billboard. He was the first country star to go public with a diagnosis of the disease, the Associated Press reports. His publicist, Scott Adkins, confirmed the news of his death, Rolling Stone reports. Diffie was 61.
Harvey Mason jr., Chair and Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy, shared a touching message on behalf of the organization.
"[Joe Diffie's] long-lasting impact on the industry won't be forgotten, and his music will be cherished for generations to come," the statement reads.
Born into a musical family in Tulsa, Okla., in 1958, Diffie was a prolific country music artist and songwriter throughout the '90s and early 2000s. He landed 35 singles on the Hot Country Songs chart in the U.S. between 1990, the year he signed with the Nashville division of Epic Records, and 2004. He topped that same chart a total of five times throughout his career with the country hits "Home" (1990), his debut single, "If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)" (1991), "Pickup Man" (1994), "Third Rock From The Sun" (1994) and "Bigger Than The Beatles" (1995).
Known for his neotraditionalist country style, Diffie released a total of 12 studio albums, including a Christmas album (1995's Mr. Christmas) and a bluegrass album (2010's Homecoming: The Bluegrass Album), in addition to multiple compilation albums. His 1993 album, Honky Tonk Attitude, and his 1994 album, Third Rock From The Sun, became Top 10 hits on the Top Country Albums chart in the U.S.
At the 41st GRAMMY Awards, held in 1999, Diffie won his first and only golden gramophone for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals for his contribution to "Same Old Train," an all-star collaboration featuring Marty Stuart, Earl Scruggs, Clint Black, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Patty Loveless, Ricky Skaggs, Pam Tillis, Randy Travis, Travis Tritt and Dwight Yoakam. The track was featured on the 1998 tribute album, Tribute To Tradition.
In 1993, Diffie was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, one of the most celebrated institutions in country music.
Beyond his solo career, Diffie co-wrote songs for fellow country luminaries, including Tim McGraw, Holly Dunn and Jo Dee Messina, and recorded with Mary Chapin Carpenter and George Jones, among others.
Diffie was an influence on the younger country music generation, with several artists celebrating the legend in their music, including Jason Aldean ("1994") and Chris Young ("Raised On Country"), according to Billboard.
Diffie is survived by his wife, Theresa Crump, and his five children, according to the Associated Press.
Following the news of Diffie's death, fellow artists and institutions from the country music community commemorated the late icon.