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Joe Diffie, country hitmaker of the 1990s, dies at 61 from coronavirus

Country singer Joe Diffie last year.
Country singer Joe Diffie last year. (Frazer Harrison/AFP/Getty Images)
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Joe Diffie, a country singer who had a string of hits in the 1990s with chart-topping ballads and honky-tonk singles such as “Home” and “Pickup Man,” died March 29 in Nashville after testing positive for covid-19. He was 61.

Mr. Diffie’s publicist, Scott Adkins, announced the death.

Mr. Diffie was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for more than 25 years. His hits included “Honky Tonk Attitude,” “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die),” “Bigger Than the Beatles” and “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets).” Seventeen of Mr. Diffie’s singles landed in the top 10 on the country charts, with five going No. 1.

Mr. Diffie shared in a Grammy Award for best country collaboration for the song “Same Old Train,” with Merle Haggard, Marty Stuart and others. His last solo album was 2010’s “The Bluegrass Album: Homecoming.”

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Joe Logan Diffie was born in Tulsa on Dec. 28, 1958, and completed high school in Velma, Okla. Both parents were musical, and he began performing at 14 with a country band fronted by his aunt.

He attended Cameron University in Lawton, Okla., before dropping out to work in a foundry, among other jobs. The business shuttered in the mid-1980s, around the time his first marriage collapsed, and he moved to Nashville to try to enter the music business.

His marriages to Janise Parker, Debbie Jones and Theresa Crump ended in divorce. Survivors include his fourth wife, Tara Terpening, and seven children from his marriages.

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