Joe Diffie Dies of COVID-19; Country Star Was Part Of ’90s Wave

Joe Diffie
Rick Diamond / Getty Images for Country Thunder USA
– Joe Diffie
Country Thunder USA, Florence, Ariz.

Country music star Joe Diffie has died of complications of COVID-19, just two days after announcing he’d tested positive for the novel coronavirus that causes it. He was 61.

“Grammy-winning country music legend Joe Diffie passed away today, Sunday, March 29, from complications of coronavirus (COVID-19),” the statement said, as reported by Variety. “His family respects their privacy at this time.”

Diffie was a staple of the country charts in the 1990s, having arrived in Nashville from Tulsa, Okla., and taking a job at Gibson Guitars, singing on demos and having success as a songwriter for others, including Holly Dunn’s “There Goes My Heart Again. He was signed by Epic  and scored a hit on his first release with “Home” in 1990.

His struck platinum in 1993 with Honky Tonk Attitude, and again with its follow-up Third Rock From The Sun, and scored six more Top 10 hits between the two, according to the Tennessean.

He had five No. 1 singles in the 1990s – “Home,” “If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets),” “Third Rock From The Sun,” “Pickup Man,” and “Bigger The The Beatles” – but his first Top 10 single in the new century, 2001’s, “Another World,” was also his last, according to Variety.

That didn’t stop others from writing songs that honored him, in particular Jason Aldean’s 2012 track, “1994” than namechecks Diffie, several of his song titles and features a chant of “Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie.”

Diffie remained active as a touring performer, and was represented by Brian Jones of WME. Over the last three years, he reported average ticket sales of about 900 per show for a gross of $28,512. His last scheduled performance in Pollstar’s database was Feb. 21, a “Country Unplugged” concert with Mark Chesnutt at River City Hotel & Casino in St. Louis, Mo.

Diffie announced just two days earlier that he’d tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. “I am under the care of medical professionals and currently receiving treatment,” Diffie said in a release reported by the Tennessean. “My family and I are asking for privacy at this time. We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic.”