Joe Diffie

Country music legend Joe Diffie, born in Tulsa and raised in Velma, passed away Sunday, March 29, 2020, after complications with COVID-19.

Country music legend Joe Diffie, born in Tulsa and raised in Velma, passed away Sunday, March 29, 2020, after complications with COVID-19.

Diffie announced on Facebook just after 3:30 p.m. Friday, March 27 he had tested positive for the virus.

“I am under the care of medical professionals and currently receiving treatment after testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19),” read the post. “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.”

On Sunday, around 3 p.m., a post from the same page announced the CMA and GRAMMY®-winning Diffie passed away Sunday from complications of COVID-19. Diffie was 61. His family requests privacy at this time.

A graduate of Velma High School, Diffie attended Cameron University.

A statement from Cameron University Sunday read: "COVID-19 struck close to the Cameron University family today. It is with heavy hearts that we pass along word that country music star Joe Diffie succumbed to coronavirus at 61. ... On behalf of the Aggie family, Cameron University extends its condolences to his family."

Diffie was inducted into the Duncan Area Arts Hall of Fame Jan. 25, 2020. He was also a member of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and had been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for the last 25 years.

According to his Duncan Area Arts Hall of Fame biography, Diffie originally set his sights on a medical career, but his love for music won out and he began performing in a gospel group and a bluegrass band before deciding to give Nashville a try. He was on the verge of moving home when a conversation with his dad changed his destiny. 

“Dad said, ‘If you don’t have a goal, you don’t have anything to shoot at. Do something every day towards your music. Write a song or play your guitar.’ I took that to heart and made sure I did something every day whether it was big or little. I think it would apply in anything.”

 That passion and dedication to his dream paid off. His first break came when Holly Dunn recorded “There Goes My Heart Again” and asked him to sing harmony. 

By 1990, Diffie had signed with Epic Records and released his debut album A Thousand Winding Roads. His first single, “Home,” hit No. 1. He continued to dominate the charts throughout the 90s with such hits as “New Way (To Light Up an Old Flame),” “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets),” “Is It Cold in Here,” “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die),” “So Help Me Girl,” “Bigger than the Beatles” and “Third Rock from the Sun.”

Recently, he released Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie!, his first-ever vinyl LP.

As one of the most successful singer/songwriters of the 1990s, Diffie also penned hits for artists like Tim McGraw, Conway Twitty and Jo Dee Messina. 

CMA and GRAMMY®-winning country music legend Diffie continues to be celebrated in hit song homages from Jason Aldean (“1994”) to Chris Young (“Raised On Country”), with a reign that includes 13 albums and more than 20 Top 10 hits to his credit.

Recommended for you