Country singer Joe Diffie, who had a string of hits in the 1990s with chart-topping ballads and honky-tonk singles like Home and Pickup Man, has died in Tennessee after testing positive for Covid-19. He was 61.
Diffie announced on Saturday he had contracted the coronavirus, becoming the first country star to go public with such a diagnosis. His publicist, Scott Adkins, said the singer died Sunday in Nashville due to complications from the virus.
Diffie, a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for more than 25 years. His hits included Honky Tonk Attitude, Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die), Bigger Than the Beatles and If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets).
"Country music lost one of the good guys today," Naomi Judd said.
Diffie's mid-90s albums Honky Tonk Attitude and Third Rock From the Sun went platinum. Eighteen of his singles landed in the top 10 on the country charts, with five at No 1.
In his 2013 single 1994, Jason Aldean name-checked the 90s country mainstay.
Diffie shared in a Grammy award for best country collaboration for the song Same Old Train, with Merle Haggard, Marty Stuart and others. His last solo album was 2010's The Bluegrass Album: Homecoming.
"Joe Diffie, one of our best singers and my buddy, is gone," Tanya Tucker said. "We are the same age, so it's very scary. I will miss his voice, his laughter, his songs."
"Joe was a real true honky tonk hero to every country artist alive today," singer John Rich said. "No one sang our music better than he did, and to see his life and artistry cut short is beyond tragic. He was loved, cherished and respected by all of country music and beyond."
Toby Keith offered condolences to Diffie's family, saying, "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."
Diffie is survived by his wife, Tara Terpening Diffie, and seven children from four marriages.