Grammy-winning country music singer Joe Diffie died from complications related to the coronavirus. He was 61 years old.
The official statement was posted on his verified Instagram and Facebook pages on Sunday. His family asked for privacy at this time. “It’s with a sad heart that I have to post this,” the caption for the Instagram post read.
Two days earlier, Diffie, who was a member of Grand Ole Opry for 25 years, told fans he had tested positive for the virus. He was the first country singer to announce his positive COVID-19 diagnosis, Billboard wrote.
“I am under the care of medical professionals and currently receiving treatment after testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). My family and I are asking for privacy at this time. We want to remind the public to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic,” his Friday statement said.
Diffie Was Beloved by Country Music Fans
For country music fans, Diffie was a household name. He rose to fame in the 1990s with hits like “Pickup Man” “John Deere Green,” “Bigger Than the Beatles” and “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets).” He has over 20 top ten hits. Of the 13 albums he made, two went platinum and two were certified gold.
In a 1993 interview with People magazine, Vince Gill, Diffie’s fellow Opry star, praised the signer’s voice. “There are plenty of singers in this town, but not many with a range like his,” he said.
Aside from his own music, Diffie also wrote songs for stars like Tim McGraw, Jo Dee Messina, and Conway Twitty.
Diffie hadn’t had a top ten hit since 2001, but that didn’t mean his fans loved him any less. In 2012, Jason Aldean recorded “1994,” which is widely regarded as a tribute song to Diffie. Singer Chris Young also celebrated Diffie on the track “Raised On Country.”
According to Variety, the Oklahoma native had been planning to release new music. The album, reportedly titled, I Got This, would have been his first new record in seven years.
When it came to writing music, he just wrote what he liked. “I just like the songs themselves,” Diffie told Rolling Stone in 2019. “Finding songs I really liked and that I related to. Really, it’s not any more complicated than that.”
Tributes to Diffie Poured Out on Social Media
Grand Ole Opry remembered Diffie by sharing one of his quotes, where he said: “Even though I’ve been doing this for a long time, it’s like I want to pinch myself still. It’s an awful neat deal to be able to live out your dream.”
“Joe, thank you for all of the music and light you’ve given us,” the group tweeted. “Thank you for letting us be part of your dream.”
Rich O’Toole added, “I grew up on your music and I will keep you in my heart forever.”
Singer Clint Black sent his thoughts to everyone who “knew and loved” Diffie. “We’ve lost a friend, Joe Diffie, to this horrible virus. Wishing his family and all those who knew and loved Joe the very best in strength and peace of mind,” he tweeted. “Let that ‘jukebox’ play him off to rest in peace.”
Radio personality Bobby Bones also mourned the country singer. He shared a picture of himself with the star. “RIP to the great Joe Diffie. We became buds over the last couple of years. It’s always great getting to know the people you were a fan of as a kid. That was absolutely the case w JD. Joe died of Coronavirus complications,” he tweeted.
Charlie Daniels said he was “shocked” by Diffie’s passing. “Just got word that Joe Diffie has passed away,” he tweeted. “Sincere condolences to his family It’s such a shock and such a loss for Country Music Rest In Peace Joe”
Diffie was remembered as a country legend. Netizens flocked to social media to mourn his passing.