Joe Logan Diffie passed away in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday, March 29, 2020 from complications of coronavirus COVID-19. He was 61.
Born on Dec. 28, 1958, in Tulsa, Okla., to Joe and Flora Diffie, Diffie is survived by his wife, Tara Terpening Diffie; his mother Flora Diffie; two sisters, Meg Prestidge and Monica Stiles; four sons, Parker Diffie, Travis Humes, Drew Diffie and Tyler Diffie; three daughters, Kara Diffie, Kylie Diffie and Reaux Terpening; and four grandchildren.missing or outdated ad config
Diffie was preceded in death by his father, Joe Riley Diffie. His father held various jobs, including driving a tour bus for Toby Keith. Flora Diffie was a schoolteacher and owned a flower shop.
Diffie, who went from working in oil fields and foundries to becoming one of the most commercially successful country singers, began writing songs in the 1980s, and one of them, “Love on the Rocks,” was recorded by Hank Thompson. Soon, Diffie moved to Nashville, where he spent a few years writing songs and singing demos. After singing background on a Holly Dunn recording of one of his songs, he signed with Epic Records in 1990, and before long had his first No. 1 country hit. Even in his performing era, Diffie continued writing songs, including ones recorded by Tim McGraw (“Memory Lane”) and Jo Dee Messina (“My Give a Damn’s Busted”).
As a singer, he had a crisp, sentimental voice, which he deployed on ballads like “Is It Cold in Here” and “Home,” his debut single from 1990; it topped the Billboard country chart, the first of his five No. 1 country singles. He placed a dozen more songs in the country top 10. Diffie also had a playful, plucky rowdiness, and that animated his biggest hits. His third and fourth albums, “Honky Tonk Attitude” (1993) and “Third Rock from the Sun” (1994) — both went platinum. Two of his other albums went gold. “Pickup Man,” from 1994, was his most successful song, topping the Billboard country chart for four weeks. It was also the song that best took advantage of his various talents. The title track from “Third Rock From the Sun,” which went to No. 1, was a lighthearted catalog of rural misadventure. His 1995 Christmas album included a honky-tonk anthem, “Leroy the Redneck Reindeer.”
In 1998, Diffie won a GRAMMY® for best country collaboration, with vocals for “Same Old Train,” a multi-star collaboration. Diffie’s legacy was also celebrated in 2013, when country superstar Jason Aldean released a single called “1994,” which emphatically invokes Diffie’s work and influence, name-checking several Diffie songs in the lyrics. Throughout the video, there are clips of almost all the country stars of the 2010s — Luke Bryan, Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line and more — singing to the camera, “Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie! That refrain became the title of Diffie’s final album, Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie! released in 2019.
Country superstar Chris Young also paid homage to Diffie in his recent hit, “Raised On Country.” Diffie, an Oklahoma Music Hall of Famer, celebrated a pinnacle career milestone of more than 25 years as a member of the historic Grand Ole Opry and began hosting a radio show on KXBL, a country station in his native Tulsa prior to his death.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund, MusiCares Coronavirus Relief Fund and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.