Fans And Friends Mourn The Loss Of Country Star Joe Diffie

The country music community is mourning the loss of Grand Ole Opry member Joe Diffie. The ’90s country hitmaker passed away yesterday, March 29, from complications of COVID-19. He Was 61. A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Diffie lived in Texas and Washington before moving to Nashville in the ’80s and found work as a demo singer before signing with Epic Nashville in 1990. He is survived by five children and his wife, Tara. Here are some thoughts from fellow country stars:
“We are feeling it now. Oklahoma boy Joe Diffie has passed away from this virus. My kids grew up around his parents. My prayers will be with his family. A great traditional voice will live on cuz I’m putting his music on now. Here’s a beer to ya, Joe. Go get your reward.”
–Toby Keith
“What a sad weekend for our country music and Grand Ole Opry families with the passing of Jan Howard and now Joe Diffie. Joe was a great singer…his record of “Ships That Don’t Come In” is one of my all-time favorite performances. I always knew when I introduced him at the Opry that the fans were about to be well entertained. Joe will certainly be missed.”
–Bill Anderson
“Beyond sadness. Beyond a loss for words. My thoughts and prayers for his family and fans.”
–Billy Ray Cyrus“We are devastated to hear about the passing of Joe Diffie today. We met Joe and became friends with him right after his first hits in the early 1990s. We will miss him so much and are sending our prayers to his family.”
–David Bellamy, Bellamy Brothers “I’m heartbroken to hear that my friend, Joe Diffie, has passed at just 61. I had so much admiration for Joe. He was a wonderful friend and a super talented singer and songwriter. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to name some of my favorite younger country singers and over the years, Joe Diffie was always one on the top of the list. Whenever we worked a show together, I always wanted to stand on the side and listen. We have lost one of the best country singers that ever lived.”
–Gene Watson

“The minute I heard “Pickup Man,” I thought, what a perfect song for him! He was a good ole boy’, all around kinda guy. He was like tv’s Tim Allen from ‘Home Improvement.’ Relatable and kind. Country music lost one of the good guys today.”
–Naomi Judd

“We just lost one of the best singers this town has ever known. My thoughts and prayers are with Joe Diffie’s family.”
–Phil Vassar

“Sometimes I hear bad news, and over and over again in that cold empty space, I think if I wait a minute or two, the news will change, but it’s final. Joe Diffie, one of our best singers and my buddy, is gone. We are the same age, so it’s very scary. I will miss his voice, his laughter, his songs. My thoughts go out to his entire family. I’ll love you always Joe and am so grateful you were in my life.”
–Tanya Tucker

“I’m heartbroken and in shock just like all of you over this awful news. Joe Diffie possessed one of the most incredible pure country voices on the planet, and he was always so much fun to be around. My prayers are with his family at this sad time. Rest In Peace ol’ pal.”
–Steve Wariner

“Just got word that Joe Diffie has passed away. Sincere condolences to his family. It’s such a shock and such a loss for Country Music. Rest in Peace, Joe.”
Charlie Daniels
 
“I was saddened to hear that my friend and fellow Grand Ole Opry member Joe Diffie passed away today. Joe was a great singer, songwriter, and entertainer that left his mark in Country Music. His clear voice and unique singing style made him immediately recognizable. We will all certainly miss him.”
-Ricky Skaggs
 
“Joe Diffie. A great friend. A great man. A great singer. A GREAT loss.”
Larry Gatlin, The Gatlin Brothers
 
“One of the best artists ’90s Country ever served up. I worked fairs all over the country with Joe. It’s sort of like losing a classmate. Recently he sang a song with me, Lorrie Morgan and Darryl Worley, ‘Summer Wine.’ It was a perfect performance. He never hit a bad note and was just a regular guy. We all loved him. RIP, Joe Diffie.”
Pam Tillis
 
“I’m so sorry to hear about Joe Diffie’s passing. We always met with a smile and we’ll see each other again with a smile.”
Doug Gray, The Marshall Tucker Band
 
“So tragic to hear that another great legend’s voice has gone silent. He was and will remain one of country music’s great vocalists. It’s truly a sad day for our industry. Joe please tell our friends Kenny Rogers and Jan Howard we love them and to send down a prayer for all of us during this difficult time on earth. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Tara and their family.”
T.G. Sheppard
 
“I am deeply saddened at the news of Joe Diffie’s death. He and I were labelmates on Sony Epic Records for many years. We worked together a lot over the years. I can honestly say that Joe was one of the truly good guys in our business. A real gentleman, and obviously, one of the greatest Country Music singers who ever lived.  His records, ‘Home’ and ‘Ships That Don’t Come In’ are among my favorite records of all time. I am honored, and humbled, to have known him. May God Bless and comfort Joe’s family and welcome him into Eternity. We’ll miss you, Brother.”
Collin Raye
 
“I am in total shock and disbelief at the passing of my friend, tourmate and Country legend, Joe Diffie. My heart is broken and I’m praying for his family and for our country as we deal with this horrible pandemic. You will be missed, Joe. Rest in Peace.”
Aaron Tippin
 
“I keep saying almost every night on stage Joe Diffie is the best Country voice in Country Music today. Gonna miss Joe. God bless him. Love you brother.”
Sammy Kershaw
 
“I knew this was bound to hit close to home. Today it did. I just heard the news of Joe Diffie’s passing. I am sick in my spirit because I can’t bear the thought of not hearing that voice for a while. He was a dear friend and he understood me and my convictions. Most of all, he accepted me for who I am and I felt the same about him. There’s no filling his shoes and he will be missed by many. I loved him like a brother, and I’m thankful that I know where he is. My brother, I look forward to seeing your sweet face again. Please pray for the family and loved ones devastated by this terrible loss.”
Darryl Worley
 
“Joe Diffie, he was a singer’s singer. I have been a fan since his first single, ‘Home,’ hit radio. Condolences to the family. He will be missed in our hearts as well.”
Marty Raybon, Shenandoah
 
“I’m so sad to hear of the passing of a brother in music, Joe Diffie. What a voice! We have worked around each other for decades. Really one of the good guys. I’m so shocked. Thoughts for his family, his team and friends from myself and the entire Restless Heart
family!”
Larry Stewart, Restless Heart
 
“I don’t really know if people realize how great a singer Joe Diffie was. We were buddies before we ever had our record deals. He had a great sense humor. He proved that to me when he recorded a funny tune I wrote called ‘Good Brown Gravy’ and invited me to sing on the record with him. Joe Diffie set the standard for our Country sound back in the 90’s. He was just a regular Joe, as he would put it, but he also will go down in history as one of the greats, I do believe.”
Billy Dean
 
“Joe was a simple man with a very kind heart. His aptitude and soulful command of a Country song was unparalleled. The memories of sharing the stage with him are indelible. We all love you Joe, and our heart breaks for you and your loved ones.”
-Henry Paul, BlackHawk / The Outlaws
 
“His album, Average Joe, was not a made up record company marketing idea. Joe was common as dirt and he never changed. He always loved it when he and the Kentucky Headhunters got to play together, he always said we made the day fun for him. Here’s to a real Country guy who could sing with the best of them. Peace, Joe.”
Richard Young, The Kentucky Headhunters
“So saddened to hear the news of our dear friend, Joe Diffie. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Joe’s family and loved ones during this time.”
Eddie Montgomery
 
“I really stopped in my tracks for the first time when I got the news of Joe passing away. We spoke a week ago and he said, ‘Don’t worry, Colt, I’m gonna be fine.'” He was one of the best country singers I have ever heard, and an even better guy. Rest Easy, Joe.”
Colt Ford

About Jerry Holthouse

Music editor for Nashville.com. Jerry Holthouse is a content writer, songwriter and a graphic designer. He owns and runs Holthouse Creative, a full service creative agency. He is an avid outdoorsman and a lover of everything music. You can contact him at JerryHolthouse@Nashville.com

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