UPDATE: Joe Diffie has died from complications associated with Covid-19. For an updated story, read here. For a celebration of Diffie’s career in country music from someone who knew him, click here.



Joe Diffie has become the first country star to go public with a coronavirus diagnosis, announcing that he contracted the disease in a message to fans Friday.

The singer did not reveal whether he is currently hospitalized.

“I am under the care of medical professionals and currently receiving treatment,” Diffie, 61, said in his statement. “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.”

Diffie, a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 25 years, is regarded as iconic by many country fans who came of age listening to the format in the 1990s. He had more than 20 top 10 country hits, five of which went to No. 1 (“Home,” “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets,” “Third Rock from the Sun,” “Pickup Man” and “Bigger Than the Beatles”). Two of his 13 albums went platinum and another two were certified gold.

Although Diffie has not had a top 10 hit since 2001, it’s a measure of the affection country fans have for him from the ’90s that country superstar Jason Aldean recorded what basically amounts to a tribute song to Diffie, “1994,” which he released in 2012. Aldean’s song (which was co-written by a writer who went on to be a superstar in his own right, Thomas Rhett) calls out the names of a half-dozen Diffie hits, includes lines like “1994, Joe Diffie comin’ out my radio” and “Hey Joe, come on and teach us how to Diffie,” and has features a chant as its chorus: “Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie.”

Diffie had reportedly been planning to release his first new album in seven years, “I Got This.”

In Tennessee, confirmed coronaviruses have risen to 1,203, with six deaths, two of which have been reported in the Nashville area, according to the Tennessean. Restrictions have not been as severe as in many other states, but Tennessee doctors are now urging the governor to “shut the state down,” the newspaper reports.