Country star and Grand Ole Opry member Joe Diffie has died today from complications of COVID-19. He was 61.
He was a 1990s country star who had hits like John Deere Green, Pick Up Man, Home, Ships That Don’t Come In and many others, selling more than 6 million records.
Diffie was an iron foundry worker in Duncan, Oklahoma who played bars and VFW Halls before moving to Nashville and getting work as a demo singer. He signed with Epic Records in 1990 and joined the Opry three years later.
“Our Opry family is terribly saddened to hear the news of the passing of Opry member Joe Diffie. During his 26 years as part of the Opry family, he brought us memorable hits and unforgettable performances. His music will live on for years to come,” said Dan Rogers, vice president and executive producer of the Grand Ole Opry.
Diffie influenced many artists including Luke Combs. Diffie and Vince Gill inducted Combs into the Grand Ole Opry in July 2019.
Thomas Rhett wrote a song called 1994 about Joe Diffie. It became a 2013 hit for Jason Aldean and included the lines:
1994, Joe Diffie comin’ out my radio
I’m just a country boy with a farmer’s tan.
So help me girl I’ll be your Pick-Up Man.”
The video featured Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, Little Big Town, Jake Owen and Rhett.
“When I heard it, I was stunned,” Diffie said at the time. “I was like, ‘You gotta be kidding me.’ It’s pretty flattering they went that far with it. It’s one thing to hear a song title or your name mentioned, but when it started into the ‘Joe. Joe. Joe Diffie‘ part, that’s cool right there.”
Bill Cody, longtime WSM personality said, “If ever there was a traditional straight ahead country singers singer, it was Joe Diffie!! My friend for nearly 30 years and a voice that will echo through the ages.”