Country musician Joe Diffie is the latest entertainer to lose his life due to complications from COVID-19. He tested positive for the coronavirus last week. Diffie was 61.
Diffie populated his records with honky-tonk ballads and lighthearted tunes, earning the Oklahoma native five Number One singles in the first half of the Nineties. He released 13 albums and had more than 20 Top 10 hits to his credit. It began with his debut release “Home”, followed by “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)”, “Third Rock From the Sun”, and “Pickup Man”. He charted 18 Top Ten singles including the 1993 radio staple “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die)”.
Joseph Logan Diffie was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was raised in the small community of Velma. The family had since moved on and lived in San Antonio, Texas and Wisconsin. He started his music career playing bars, VFW halls, and honky-tonks as a solo act in Duncan, Oklahoma, where he lived with his wife and children while working in a local foundry. Diffie later partnered with his father to run a small recording studio.
After the closing of the foundry and going through divorce from his first wife, he relocated to Nashville in 1986, implementing a five-year plan to make it in the music business. There, he took a job with the Gibson guitar company and also began singing on countless demos and writing songs. In 1988, country legend Hank Thompson cut the Diffie composition “Love on the Rocks.” In 1989, Diffie co-wrote and sang backing vocals on Holly Dunn’s “There Goes My Heart Again.”
Diffie signed with Epic Records and released his debut ‘A Thousand Winding Roads’ in 1990. The album produced his inaugural hit “Home”. Opening for acts including George Strait and Steve Wariner, Diffie continued his hit streak with six Top Five singles in a row. In 1993 he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and released the platinum-selling ‘Honky-Tonk Attitude’, followed by ‘Third Rock From the Sun’, which were both certified platinum. Diffie signed with the Rounder label, returning to his bluegrass roots with ‘Homecoming’. He won a Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals for the all-star recording “Same Old Train” in 1998.
In 2013, Diffie and two of his country contemporaries – Aaron Tippin and Sammy Kershaw – teamed up for the collaborative album ‘All in the Same Boat’. In July 2019, he released the honky-tonk tune “As Long as There’s a Bar,” and in November issued his first-ever vinyl album, ‘Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie’ that featured updated versions of 11 of his hits and a cover of the Stevie Ray Vaughan tune “Pride and Joy”.