Country stars are almost speechless this Sunday (March 29) upon hearing the news that Joe Diffie, a country star treasured by so many of his peers, had passed away at just 61. One of the most popular country artists of the ’90s and early 2000s, Diffie died on Sunday from complications of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Here’s what his friends, fans and followers are saying about the man who, as Granger Smith noted, inspired an entire generation:
We’ve lost one of our own now to this silent enemy. That really hit home to me. I worked with Joe in the past. Great guy and hugely talented singer and entertainer. Let’s pray for his family and for all those who are affected by this terrible virus. We are going to win.
— George Strait (@GeorgeStrait) March 30, 2020
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Truly one of the best true country singers ever. I will cherish every conversation and every round of golf we played. You treated me like a true friend. We will always remember your music. The deep songs, the fun songs and the honkytonk attitude. RIP Joe Diffie. Love ya buddy.
Joe Diffie was always good to me when I was just getting started and I was in awe of him every time we did a show together. He was a true hero and he will be played LOUDLY at our home all today.
— Blake Shelton (@blakeshelton) March 30, 2020
All the life lessons I ever needed were in Ships That Dont Come In. pic.twitter.com/MWYWE6qSED
— Dierks Bentley (@DierksBentley) March 30, 2020
I am so sad about Joe Diffie. I always loved working with him and just got to see him and visit with him recently at The Opry. Praying for his family and loved ones. @ Nashville, Tennessee https://t.co/ilFFYoLXNW
— Sara Evans (@saraevansmusic) March 29, 2020
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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 ✌
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By far the coolest thing I’ve got to do in music was share the stage with Joe Diffie… I was side stage with Micheal when he called us both up to sing “John Deere Green”…I immediately called my Dad after and said, “Pops, guess what I just did”…My prayers are with his family during this very hard time…Thank you Joe for your music, your kindness, and your legacy…You will be greatly missed
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One the best country singers of all time, timeless songs, and most importantly one of the kindest people I ever knew. Joe, you will live forever in my heart, my voice.. my prayers are with your family. I know you are singing with the angels now. We love you. See you on the other side.
Can’t believe the news about Joe Diffie ……. my heart breaks for your family and friends – and fans …….
count me right in there too – you were THE REAL DEAL JOE…
— Keith Urban (@KeithUrban) March 29, 2020
( heartbroken ) pic.twitter.com/Tu0d89zu2U
— Gretchen Wilson (@gw27) March 29, 2020
Damn…we lost a good one today. RIP Joe Diffie. pic.twitter.com/6HWrxzCqKM
— Hot Country Knights (@countryknights) March 30, 2020
Absolutely no words for the loss of Joe Diffie. The music and legacy he leaves behind are legendary. Prayers for his family and friends.
— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) March 29, 2020
I loved Joe… His music, his spirit, and his love for music… One of the most influential vocalist of our time in country music. So many great songs… However "Ships That Don't Come In" always gets me @JoeDiffieOnline pic.twitter.com/pX1UNTVcA6
— thetimmcgraw (@TheTimMcGraw) March 29, 2020
The angels must have been missing some true country music, because God just brought another legend home.
That it was Covid-19 that claimed the life of Joe Diffie seems surreal, all I know is that our tremendous… https://t.co/rQvitZ2TSB
— Terri Clark (@TerriClarkMusic) March 29, 2020
This is for Joe Diffie. He always had a big laugh. Godspeed you home brother. pic.twitter.com/VktGfovmSw
— Radney Foster (@RadneyFoster) March 29, 2020
I don’t know what to say. I am playing your songs loud and shedding a tear. Thank you for being a great friend and mentor. They say “don’t meet your hero’s” @JoeDiffieOnline that wasn’t the case with you.
Rest easy my brother. Love ya.
— Michael Ray (@Michaelraymusic) March 29, 2020
heartbroken over Joe Diffie dying today…one of the greatest singers and an even better person…all my love and prayers go out to his family.
— Clay Walker (@ClayWalker) March 29, 2020
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
The LEGENDARY #JoeDiffie was an artists artist. His music was honky tonk 101 if you wanted to be the real deal in our business. No one ever sang it better, and no one was ever more down to earth and caring for other singers. We'll miss you Joe. @jakeowen @BigKennyTV @cowboytroy pic.twitter.com/HdpOP01NYm
— John Rich (@johnrich) March 29, 2020
Sadly we lose another great country singer this week, my friend #JoeDiffie … this time to the coronavirus – hard to believe. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest In Peace! @JoeDiffieOnline pic.twitter.com/T42GOg3qdL
— Lee Greenwood (@TheLeeGreenwood) March 29, 2020
— Mitch Rossell (@mitch_rossell) March 29, 2020
I can’t even begin to find the words. RIP @JoeDiffieOnline – you meant so much to our country music community and were such a dear friend to my husband. May your spirit & songs live on in us ♥️
— Carly Pearce (@carlypearce) March 29, 2020
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. -T
— Toby Keith (@tobykeith) March 29, 2020
— Jamie O'Neal (@JamieONeal) March 29, 2020
Joe Diffie was one of the reasons I wanted to sing country music. I am utterly heartbroken for his wife and children, his crew and band members. Thank you Joe for inspiring me and so many others. I will forever cherish the little moments I had with you. pic.twitter.com/PQIqiM3ehh
— Caylee Hammack (@Cayleehammack) March 29, 2020
— Chris Janson (@janson_chris) March 29, 2020
We've lost a friend, @JoeDiffieOnline to this horrible virus. Wishing his family and all those who knew and loved Joe the very best in strength and peace of mind. Let that "jukebox" play him off to rest in peace.
— Clint Black (@Clint_Black) March 29, 2020
The soundtrack of every bonfire, parking lot, tailgate, jukebox, and cassette player back in high school. We’ll miss you, Joe Diffie. A legend gone way too soon. Country music won’t be the same without you Rest In Peace. Sending all of my love to his family & loved ones. pic.twitter.com/tNYvITyXqh
— Jessi Alexander (@JessiLAlexander) March 29, 2020
Pickup Man, John Deere Green, Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox, 3rd Rock From The Sun, So Help Me Girl, Bigger Than The Beatles, Ships That Don’t Come In….and so many others.@JoeDiffieOnline thank you for coloring my 90s in a beautiful shade of John Deere Green.
— Kelleigh Bannen (@kelleighbannen) March 29, 2020
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
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
I’m heartbroken and in shock just like all of you over this awful news. @JoeDiffieOnline 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. pic.twitter.com/BOgd5CTf0v
— Steve Wariner (@stevewariner) March 29, 2020
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
— Brandy Clark (@TheBrandyClark) March 29, 2020
— Trace Adkins (@TraceAdkins) March 29, 2020
2020… damn. RIP Pickup Man. So sad. We lost Joe Diffie
— Cole Swindell (@coleswindell) March 29, 2020
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 (@CharlieDaniels) March 29, 2020
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
Man RIP Joe Diffie. A staple for so much about what I love in country music. This shit is real y’all. Please stay home and stay safe.
— Travis Denning (@Travis_Denning) March 29, 2020
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
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… https://t.co/qtDXX4oXao
— Travis Tritt (@Travistritt) March 29, 2020
Man, this hits hard.
One of Country music’s greatest singers and songwriters, Joe Diffie passed today.
Growing up, we played his Honkytonk Attitude cassette until it fell apart.
Had the chance to meet and write a couple songs with Joe and am thankful for his legacy.
RIP Joe. pic.twitter.com/MDzJ3kVzbZ
— BRANDON RAY (@BrandonRayMusic) March 29, 2020
Joe Diffie, man. Thanks for all the absolute bangers that made me love country music as a kid. RIP Pickup Man.
— Adam Hambrick (@adamhambrick) March 29, 2020
— The Oak Ridge Boys (@oakridgeboys) March 29, 2020
In 2013, Jason Aldean released a tribute to Diffie with his “1994,” written by Thomas Rhett, Luke Laird, and Barry Dean. At the time, Diffie had told CMT.com it was an honor. “It’s kind of flattering, yet uncomfortable at the same time. Talk about unexpected, you know? Someone told me that Thomas Rhett had co-written a song that mentioned me. And I thought, ’I wonder what he said about me in there?’ Because we’ve all heard songs in the past that mention Haggard or Jones, so I thought it might be something like that,” Diffie had said. “When I heard it, I was stunned. I was like. ’You gotta be kidding me.’ It’s pretty flattering they went that far with it.
“It’s one thing to hear a song title or your name mentioned, but when it started into the ’Joe. Joe. Joe Diffie’ part, that’s cool right there.”
Aldean recruited Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Thomas Rhett, Jake Owen, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town and Florida Georgia Line for his “1994” video, knowing that they were all as influenced by Diffie’s music as he was. The lyrics reference at least eight of Diffie’s hits, like “Pickup Man,” “Honky Tonk Attitude,” “So Help Me Girl,” “Third Rock from the Sun,” “C-O-U-N-T-R-Y,” “John Deere Green” and more.