Joe Diffie, Grammy-Winning Country Music Star, Dies at 61

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Joe Diffie, a country singer who had a string of hits in the 1990s with chart-topping ballads and honky-tonk singles like “Home” and “Pickup Man,” died on Sunday in Nashville. He was 61.

He announced on Friday that he had contracted the coronavirus, becoming the first country star to go public with such a diagnosis. His publicist, Scott Adkins, confirmed his death.

Mr. Diffie 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).”

His mid-90s albums “Honky Tonk Attitude” and “Third Rock From the Sun” went platinum. Eighteen of Mr. Diffie’s singles landed in the Top 10 on the country charts, with five going No. 1. In his 2013 single “1994,” Jason Aldean name-checked the ’90s country mainstay.

Mr. Diffie shared a Grammy Award for best country collaboration for the song “Same Old Train,” with Merle Haggard, Marty Stuart and others.

Joe Logan Diffie was born on Dec. 28, 1958, in Tulsa, Okla.

His last solo album was 2010’s “The Bluegrass Album: Homecoming.”

“Joe was a real true honky-tonk hero to every country artist alive today,” the singer John Rich said in a statement. “No one sang our music better than he did.”

The singer Deana Carter said she was “shell shocked” by the news and had hoped to perform again with Mr. Diffie this year. “He was a powerhouse that stopped people in their tracks, both on and offstage,” she said in a statement.

Mr. Diffie is survived by his wife, Tara Terpening Diffie, and seven children from four marriages.


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