A representative for Diffie confirmed his death in a news release. The "Pickup Man" and "John Deere Green" singer announced Friday (March 27) that he tested positive for the virus.
“I am under the care of medical professionals and currently receiving treatment,” he said in a statement at that time. “My family and I are asking for privacy at this time. We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic.”
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Diffie enjoyed a consistent run of country hits in the early 1990s. "Pickup Man" was among five chart-toppers he scored in the first half of the decade.
Chart success didn't follow Diffie far into the 21st century — his final top 10 hit was 2001's "In Another World." But as nostalgia grew for the country music of the 1990s, Diffie was continuously celebrated by modern stars — never more loudly than on Jason Aldean's "1994," which mentioned Diffie's name more than a dozen times.
"(I) got my honky tonk attitude from Joe Diffie," Chris Young sang on 2019's "Raised On Country."
After releasing his last studio album, "All In The Same Boat," in 2013, Diffie had reactivated his career in recent years. He released two new singles in 2018, and had been working on a new album entitled "I Got This."
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.— Brad Paisley (@BradPaisley) March 29, 2020
Please celebrate his music today everyone, go listen again to his records. pic.twitter.com/OYiyPTbLCy
In 2019, Diffie offered his on-air talent to Tulsa radio station Big Country KXBL 99.5, hosting the mid-day show remotely via Nashville and on the road.
After working as a demo singer in the 1980s, he signed with Epic Records' Nashville division in 1990. Between then and 2004, Diffie charted 35 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, five of which peaked at number one: his debut release "Home", "If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)", "Third Rock from the Sun", "Pickup Man" (his longest-lasting number-one song, at four weeks) and "Bigger Than the Beatles". In addition to these singles, he has had 12 others reach the top 10 and ten more others reach the top 40 on the same chart. He has also co-written singles for Holly Dunn, Tim McGraw, and Jo Dee Messina, and has recorded with Mary Chapin Carpenter, George Jones, and Marty Stuart.
Diffie released seven studio albums, a Christmas album, and a greatest-hits package under the Epic label. He also released one studio album each through Monument Records, Broken Bow Records, and Rounder Records. Among his albums, 1993's Honky Tonk Attitude and 1994's Third Rock from the Sun are certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, while 1992's Regular Joe and 1995's Life's So Funny are both certified gold. His album, Homecoming: The Bluegrass Album, was released in late 2010 through Rounder.
His style is defined by a neotraditionalist country influence with a mix of novelty songs and ballads.