HomeEntertainmentMusicOn This Day: Country Star Joe Diffie Dies One Year Ago

On This Day: Country Star Joe Diffie Dies One Year Ago

by Halle Ames
(Photo Credit: Rick Diamond/ Getty Images)

One year ago today, the world lost country music singer and songwriter Joe Diffie. Let’s take a look back on his life.

Joe Diffie Early Life

Joe Diffie was born in December of 1958 as a Tulsa, Oklahoma native. By the age of seven, the legend in the making was already following in his family’s footsteps by performing at events.

Throughout high school, Diffie moved around the US four times with his parents before landing back in Oklahoma, where he would attend college at Cameron University. Joe Diffie started off with high hopes by earning credits towards a medical degree but eventually dropped out before graduating.

Following his leave from college, Diffie worked numerous jobs, all while being a musician on the side. The artist got his start with a gospel band called Higher Purpose. Next, he joined a bluegrass group named Special Edition.

Joe Diffie finally built himself a recording studio and started to tour locally with Special Edition. All the while, Diffie was sending demos to publishers in the Music City.

In 1982, Joe Diffie married his first wife, Janise Parker, but after having two children together, they called it quits 1986.

It was at this time that Diffie filed for bankruptcy and sold his beloved studio, packed his bags, and headed to Nashville.

Joe Diffie began writing songs for groups to contract out, which attracted artists like Billy Dean, Alabama, and the Forester Sisters. Around this time, he also married his second wife, Debbie Jones.

Professional Career Takes Off

After a lengthy career as a songwriter and demo singer, Joe Diffie signed with Epic Records in 1990.

Throughout the nineties, Diffie produced tons of country hits, and according to a Rolling Stones article from 2020, his voice was often compared to George Jones.

During this time, Diffie opened up for legendary acts like George Strait and Steve Wariner. And by 1993, Joe Diffie was inducted into the prestigious Grand Ole Opry.

In all, Joe Diffie created 18 singles that peaked in the top ten, with most creeping within the top five positions. Some of these hits included “Home,” “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets),” “Pickup Man,” and “Bigger Than the Beatles.”

Some of his most notable songs were “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die)” and “John Deere Green.”

“In 1998, he won a Grammy award for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals for the all-star recording “Same Old Train” with Merle Haggard, Clint Black, Emmylou Harris, and more.”

By 1996, Joe Diffie divorced Debbie Jones. But the country singer wasn’t giving up on love just yet. In 2000, Diffie tied the knot with Theresa Crump. The two stayed together for 17 years but also eventually divorced. Finally, Joe Diffie married for the fourth and final time to Tara Terpening in 2018, until his death in 2020.

He died in March of last year due to complications related to COVID-19. He was only 61 years old at the time.