Joe Diffie, one of the most celebrated country artists of the 1990s, died Sunday from complications of the coronavirus, his publicist confirmed to PEOPLE. He was 61.
Two days before his death, the Grammy-winning artist said he tested positive for the virus.
“I am under the care of medical professionals and currently receiving treatment after testing positive for coronavirus,” he wrote on social media. “We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic.”
Diffie, a Tulsa, Oklahoma native, became a household name in country music with more than 20 Top 10 hits and 13 albums.
The country hitmaker had five singles reach No. 1 on the charts, including his major hits “Home,” “Bigger Than the Beatles,” If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets,” “Third Rock From the Sun” and “Pickup Man.” His last top 10 hit was in 2001, according to NBC News.
Diffie, who was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 25 years and an Oklahoma Hall of Famer, wrote for other country artists like Tim McGraw and was notably name-checked in Jason Aldean‘s 2013 single “1994” and Chris Young‘s 2019 single “Raised on Country.”
After news of Diffie’s death, many singers expressed their condolences on social media.
Aldean wrote, “Man what a week Kenny Rogers and now @officialjoediffie. This guy was an amazing singer and an even greater person. Such a sad week for the country music world. Joe was always so much fun to be around and I will never forget our Panama City show with @tylerfarr and @therealtracylawrence 😂…We will miss u my friend. Thanks for teaching us how to “Diffie”. #1994 ✌🏼”
Travis Tritt, who was a “good friend and touring partner” of Diffie’s, shared several photos of the pair together on Instagram.
“We had a lot of great times together, both onstage and offstage. This comes as a huge shock to all of us in the country music community who loved Joe and his talent. Deepest condolences to Joe’s family, friends and fans,” Tritt wrote.
Luke Combs also shared a tribute to Diffie on Instagram, posting a recent photo of the two together.
“Damn… this seems like yesterday, can’t believe you’re gone. Rest In Peace @officialjoediffie you were a legend,” he wrote.
Country radio personality Bobby Bones shared his reaction on Twitter.
“We became buds over the last couple of years. It’s always great getting to know the people you were a fan of as a kid. That was absolutely the case w JD,” he said.
Added Morgan Wallen, “Joe Diffie man…. Our love for mullets made me feel connected to you in a special way. Rest easy brother.”
RIP to the great Joe Diffie . We became buds over the last couple of years . It’s always great getting to know the people you were a fan of as a kid. That was absolutely the case w JD. Joe died of Coronavirus complications pic.twitter.com/uBZ0hw9kYQ— Bobby Bones (@mrBobbyBones) March 29, 2020
Absolutely no words for the loss of Joe Diffie. The music and legacy he leaves behind are legendary. Prayers for his family and friends. 💔— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) March 29, 2020
2020... damn. RIP Pickup Man. So sad. We lost Joe Diffie— Cole Swindell (@coleswindell) March 29, 2020
Joe Diffie man.... Our love for mullets made me feel connected to you in a special way. Rest easy brother— morgan wallen (@MorganWallen) March 29, 2020
Rest In Peace Joe Diffie! You were one of the most iconic and distinct voices on country radio. You will be missed by so many. pic.twitter.com/gRRpLxhSWD— Eli Young Band (@EliYoungBand) March 29, 2020
Just got word that Joe Diffie has passed away.— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) March 29, 2020
Sincere condolences to his family
It’s such a shock and such a loss for Country Music
Rest In Peace Joe
Here’s to you Pickup Man. You inspired an entire generation of country singers and accepted us all with kindness, gratitude and buckets of talent. 🙏🏼 #joediffie— Granger Smith (@GrangerSmith) March 29, 2020
Just found out the very sad news about my buddy #JoeDiffie passing away from complications of COVID-19.— John Michael Montgomery (@JM2Squared) March 29, 2020
This is so heartbreaking, I just don’t even know what to say. GOD BLESS his family and loved ones. A sad, sad day for country music. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/ausMDxzd8F
So sad to hear of the passing of @JoeDiffieOnline To his family, friends, road crew, band, etc, Thoughts and prayers being sent your way. Thanks for inspiring guys like me to follow in your footsteps Joe. RIP Pickup Man.— Justin Moore (@JustinColeMoore) March 29, 2020
I’m devastated by the loss of my friend @JoeDiffieOnline. I can’t find adequate words. But the records he made, that voice, the twinkle in his eye, and our memories cannot be taken away by this disease.— Brad Paisley (@BradPaisley) March 29, 2020
Please celebrate his music today everyone, go listen again to his records. pic.twitter.com/OYiyPTbLCy
How can this be??? Another dear friend & legend gone?!! @JoeDiffieOnline has passed away from Coronavirus. He was an incredible talent, loyal friend & one of the best souls you’d ever want to meet.... God be with us all during this time, RIP.... #rip #joediffie— Rascal Flatts (@rascalflatts) March 29, 2020
- @JayDeMarcus pic.twitter.com/sTcFivnMWK
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