Joe Diffie, one of country music’s biggest stars in the early 1990s, died Sunday from complications caused by contracting the COVID-19 virus. He was 61 and his death was confirmed by his publicist.
Diffie was a traditional country artist, drawing on his honky-tonk background and deep, rich voice to craft a string of hits after his debut. He had five Number One singles in the first half of the Nineties. His hits included Home, If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets), Third Rock From the Sun, Pickup Man, Bigger Than the Beatles, Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die) and John Deere Green.
His overall career resume saw him score 18 Top Ten singles. His remarkable career was name-checked in Jason Aldean’s 2013 single 1994.
Born Joseph Logan Diffie in Tulsa and raised in Velma, Oklahoma, the family moved through San Antonio, Washington state, and Wisconsin during his early years. Diffie learned from each stop, working in gospel and bluegrass groups while playing a string of bars, VFW halls, and honky-tonks, all while working in a foundry to support his wife and children.