Country Legend Joe Diffie Dies of Coronavirus Complications at 61

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Joe Diffie, one of the most celebrated country artists of the 1990s, died Sunday from complications of the coronavirus, his publicist confirmed to PEOPLE. He was 61.

Two days before his death, the Grammy-winning artist said he tested positive for the virus.

“I am under the care of medical professionals and currently receiving treatment after testing positive for coronavirus,” he wrote on social media. “We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic.”

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Diffie, a Tulsa, Oklahoma native, became a household name in country music with more than 20 Top 10 hits and 13 albums.

The country hitmaker had five singles reach No. 1 on the charts, including his major hits “Home,” “Bigger Than the Beatles,” If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets,” “Third Rock From the Sun” and “Pickup Man.” His last top 10 hit was in 2001, according to NBC News.

Diffie, who was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 25 years and an Oklahoma Hall of Famer, wrote for other country artists like Tim McGraw and was notably name-checked in Jason Aldean‘s 2013 single “1994” and Chris Young‘s 2019 single “Raised on Country.”


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Man what a week Kenny Rogers and now @officialjoediffie. This guy was an amazing singer and an even greater person. Such a sad week for the country music world. Joe was always so much fun to be around and I will never forget our Panama City show with @tylerfarr and @therealtracylawrence 😂…We will miss u my friend. Thanks for teaching us how to “Diffie”. #1994 ✌🏼

A post shared by Jason Aldean (@jasonaldean) on Mar 29, 2020 at 3:53pm PDT

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‪I used to drive back and forth from Texas to TN listening to nothing but @officialjoediffie songs… I was lucky to get to know him… #RIP ‬

A post shared by Chris Young (@chrisyoungmusic) on Mar 29, 2020 at 12:55pm PDT

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RELATED: Jan Howard, Country Singer-Songwriter and Grand Ole Opry Member, Dies at 91

After news of Diffie’s death, many singers expressed their condolences on social media.

Aldean wrote, “Man what a week Kenny Rogers and now @officialjoediffie. This guy was an amazing singer and an even greater person. Such a sad week for the country music world. Joe was always so much fun to be around and I will never forget our Panama City show with @tylerfarr and @therealtracylawrence 😂…We will miss u my friend. Thanks for teaching us how to “Diffie”. #1994 ✌🏼

“I used to drive back and forth from Texas to TN listening to nothing but @officialjoediffie songs… I was lucky to get to know him… #RIP,” wrote country singer Chris Young on Instagram.

Travis Tritt, who was a “good friend and touring partner” of Diffie’s, shared several photos of the pair together on Instagram.


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I’m so sad to learn that Joe Diffie has passed away due to complications from the Coronavirus. Joe was a good friend and touring partner with me in the 90’s. We had a lot of great times together, both onstage and offstage. This comes as a huge shock to all of us in the country music community who loved Joe and his talent. Deepest condolences to Joe’s family, friends and fans.

A post shared by Travis Tritt (@realtravistritt) on Mar 29, 2020 at 1:15pm PDT

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“We had a lot of great times together, both onstage and offstage. This comes as a huge shock to all of us in the country music community who loved Joe and his talent. Deepest condolences to Joe’s family, friends and fans,” Tritt wrote.

Luke Combs also shared a tribute to Diffie on Instagram, posting a recent photo of the two together.

“Damn… this seems like yesterday, can’t believe you’re gone. Rest In Peace @officialjoediffie you were a legend,” he wrote.


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Damn… this seems like yesterday, can’t believe you’re gone. Rest In Peace @officialjoediffie you were a legend.

A post shared by Luke Combs 🎤 (@lukecombs) on Mar 29, 2020 at 12:46pm PDT

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Country radio personality Bobby Bones shared his reaction on Twitter.

“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,” he said.

Cole Swindell also paid tribute, writing “2020…damn. RIP Pickup Man. So Sad. We lost Joe Diffie.”

Added Morgan Wallen, “Joe Diffie man…. Our love for mullets made me feel connected to you in a special way. Rest easy brother.”

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 pic.twitter.com/uBZ0hw9kYQ

— Bobby Bones (@mrBobbyBones) March 29, 2020

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2020… damn. RIP Pickup Man. So sad. We lost Joe Diffie

— Cole Swindell (@coleswindell) March 29, 2020

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Joe Diffie man…. Our love for mullets made me feel connected to you in a special way. Rest easy brother

— morgan wallen (@MorganWallen) March 29, 2020

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Rest In Peace Joe Diffie! You were one of the most iconic and distinct voices on country radio. You will be missed by so many. pic.twitter.com/gRRpLxhSWD

— Eli Young Band (@EliYoungBand) March 29, 2020

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Just got word that Joe Diffie has passed away.Sincere condolences to his familyIt’s such a shock and such a loss for Country MusicRest In Peace Joe

— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) March 29, 2020

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Oh my God. One of the all-time GREAT vocalists. Joe Diffie was my friend. RIP, buddy. @JoeDiffieOnline pic.twitter.com/snWhL5fcLo

— Trace Adkins (@TraceAdkins) March 29, 2020

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Here’s to you Pickup Man. You inspired an entire generation of country singers and accepted us all with kindness, gratitude and buckets of talent. 🙏🏼 #joediffie

— Granger Smith (@GrangerSmith) March 29, 2020

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Just found out the very sad news about my buddy #JoeDiffie passing away from complications of COVID-19.

This is so heartbreaking, I just don’t even know what to say. GOD BLESS his family and loved ones. A sad, sad day for country music. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/ausMDxzd8F

— John Michael Montgomery (@JM2Squared) March 29, 2020

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So sad to hear of the passing of @JoeDiffieOnline To his family, friends, road crew, band, etc, Thoughts and prayers being sent your way. Thanks for inspiring guys like me to follow in your footsteps Joe. RIP Pickup Man.

— Justin Moore (@JustinColeMoore) March 29, 2020

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I’m devastated by the loss of my friend @JoeDiffieOnline. I can’t find adequate words. But the records he made, that voice, the twinkle in his eye, and our memories cannot be taken away by this disease. Please celebrate his music today everyone, go listen again to his records. pic.twitter.com/OYiyPTbLCy

— Brad Paisley (@BradPaisley) March 29, 2020

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How can this be??? Another dear friend & legend gone?!! @JoeDiffieOnline has passed away from Coronavirus. He was an incredible talent, loyal friend & one of the best souls you’d ever want to meet…. God be with us all during this time, RIP…. #rip #joediffie@JayDeMarcus pic.twitter.com/sTcFivnMWK

— Rascal Flatts (@rascalflatts) March 29, 2020

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Man… so sad to hear about @officialjoediffie passing. He was one of my country music idols. We played a few shows together back in the day. He was always so kind and encouraging. My prayers go out to his family and friends. Rest In Peace brother ill see you again one day🙌

A post shared by ThomasRhettAkins (@thomasrhettakins) on Mar 29, 2020 at 6:09pm PDT

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I’m blasting “Ships that don’t come in” and holding one up for ya brother. I’m gonna miss you friend. Thank you for always answering my late night FaceTimes when I was jamming your songs in the front of the bus and thought you should know about it haha. The world lost the best country vocalist and one of the best guys there was. This hurts a lot. Love ya buddy. 💔 @officialjoediffie

A post shared by Michael Ray (@michaelraymusic) on Mar 29, 2020 at 1:35pm PDT

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If you wanna listen to some of the best country music ever made, listen to this guy. He opened for me a few years back and I was the one asking him for a picture. Great artist, great man. Thanks for singing songs that will touch me til I join you up with Jesus. Rest In Peace Joe. Painting something on my farm John Deere green tonight.

A post shared by CHASE RICE (@chaserice) on Mar 29, 2020 at 3:40pm PDT

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#RIPJOEDIFFIE

A post shared by Old Dominion (@olddominionmusic) on Mar 29, 2020 at 4:45pm PDT

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As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.

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