Today marks the two-year anniversary of the passing of the late, great Joe Diffie from COVID, just a couple days after it was announced that he had tested positive and was hospitalized in the early days of the pandemic.
His death hit me (and a lot of others) hard, because growing up in the 90’s, Joe’s music was a staple of my childhood. From “John Deere Green” to “Pickup Man” and “Third Rock From the Sun,” and even songs like “One More Breath” and “I’m Not Through Losin’ You,” Joe’s music served as the soundtrack for a generation that grew up on 90’s country and still listens to his songs today.
And not only that, but Joe always just seemed like an everyday guy – one that made some of the most iconic music of the 90’s, but also a guy you could have a beer with or who you’d see out mowing his yard next door. Like an average American dad. And I loved that about him.
We are feeling it now. Oklahoma boy Joe Diffie has passed away from this virus. My kids grew up around his parents. My prayers will be with his family. A great traditional voice will live on cuz I’m putting his music on now. Here’s a beer to ya, Joe. Go get your reward. -T
After his death, Joe’s neighborhood in Nolensville, Tennessee held a parade to honor their neighbor and friend, who just also happened to be a 90s country icon.
Diffie’s friends and neighbors honored him with trucks, police cruisers, and tractors (in John Deere Green of course), all blasting their favorite Joe Diffie hits.
“Song comes on the radio and you just know all the words by heart,” Mick Hill told News4 at the time, from the driver’s seat of a John Deere. “And it’s just part of you, part of life… I was crushed. I was crushed.”
“Shock I think possibly would be the best way to describe that,” said family friend Lisa Garromney. “Joe was, he was just a regular guy.”
Last year on the anniversary of his death, an anonymous tribute to Diffie also popped up in nearby Old Hickory, Tennessee, where a fan “climbed up on the water tower” and painted “Billy Bob Loves Charlene” in a heart – in John Deere green, of course.
Diffie’s son also shared a touching tribute to his dad last year, recalling the memories he made with Joe and the hole his passing has left behind.
It has been a while since we last spoke, but I talk to you every day. I know this sounds funny, but I know you are there and silently listening.
I hope you see that I have tried my best to do all the right things to ensure that your family is taken care of. I hope that you smile when I stand at my kitchen counter and sing harmony through tears to every song you ever recorded and recall every moment of standing next to you on stage for all those years. I want you to know that I am so appreciative that I had the opportunity to to spend 13 years on the road with you, I will cherish every second that I was able to spend on that bus with you.
We had so many great experiences traveling the country, I learned so much in that time spent with you. I miss the moments standing on stage and watching in awe as you consistently wowed the crowd with you talents, I miss hanging on the deck listening to you rattle off useless information that only Jeopardy contestants would know. I miss the late night texts talking about football and cooking, explaining every recipe and ingredient proudly, or just checking in or sending you my latest achievements so I could hear you say you were proud of me.
I miss standing at your house and having a song pop in your head and have you sing and change the words just to make us laugh. I miss watching you light up every time your grandchildren walked In to the room.
Mostly I miss you. You are and will for ever be my hero and I will work hard to ensure that your music and legacy continues to touch people and can live on through your family.
I love you Pops,
He’s been gone for two years, but tonight I’m going to crank up “John Deere Green,” “Pickup Man,” and one of my favorites, “Ships That Don’t Come In,” a little louder, and have myself a night to remember the late great Joe Diffie.