The coronavirus has started coming for the entertainers. It got Joe Diffie over the weekend and right now it’s working on John Prine, who will hopefully pull through. Update: He didn’t, unfortunately. What a huge loss for music. Absolutely one of the best songwriters there has ever been. Rolling Stone did a wonderful feature on his life that I highly recommend.
Obviously this is extremely sad, but hopefully some good can come out of it. I don’t want to sound overly harsh here, but there are a lot of people still not taking the virus seriously. Perhaps it taking out a few famous people that mean something to them might help to put things into the proper perspective. No, Mr. COVID, that’s neither an invitation nor a request.
I was never a diehard Joe Diffie fan or anything like that, but I heard so much of him on the radio in the 90s that over time, I couldn’t help but grow a bit of an appreciation for him. His music always reminds me of driving to the Picard’s store with the family or of throwing darts down in our basement. Those were good times…usually.
He was only 61, which puts him right smack in the same age range as my parents, speaking of perspective.
Joe Diffie, a consistent country-music hitmaker throughout the Nineties, died Sunday due to complications related to COVID-19. His publicist confirmed the death to Rolling Stone. Diffie was 61.
With a traditional-leaning voice that drew comparisons to George Jones, Diffie populated his records with honky-tonk ballads and lighthearted novelty tunes, earning the Oklahoma native five Number One singles in the first half of the Nineties. These began with his debut release, the deeply moving “Home,” followed by “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets),” “Third Rock From the Sun,” “Pickup Man,” and “Bigger Than the Beatles.” In all, Diffie charted 18 Top 10 singles, with the majority reaching the Top Five, including the 1993 radio staples “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die)” and “John Deere Green.”
“There are plenty of singers in this town, but not many with a range like his,” Diffie’s fellow Opry star Vince Gill told People magazine in 1993.