Born:Joe Logan Diffie was born on December 28, 1958, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
From an early age, Joe Diffie's house was filled with the sounds of classic country artists like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. Diffie's father was a crucial influence, teaching him to play guitar when he was five years old.
Life as a Demo Singer:
Diffie worked in a foundry as an adult and played clubs on the weekend. In 1986, he lost his job. Earlier, Diffie had nearly gotten a song recorded by Randy Travis. The close call was disappointing, but it ultimately inspired him to concentrate on his music. Diffie moved to Nashville where he began working for Gibson Guitar and sung on demo records for songwriters. Diffie quickly attracted attention as many of his demo recordings were selected for recording by country stars.
After signing with Epic Records, Diffie released his first single, "Home," in 1990. The song became the first debut single to every chart at #1. Diffie's third album Honky Tonk Attitude was a career high point; the album included the truck song "Pickup Man" and tractor song "John Deere Green." It mixed new traditionalism with the rock- and pop-influenced sounds of new country, epitomized by artists such as Garth Brooks.
Number One Songs:
The following Joe Diffie songs charted at #1 on the Billboard Country Songs chart:
- "Home" (1990)
- "If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)" (1991)
- "Third Rock from the Sun" (1994)
- "Pickup Man" (1994)
- "Bigger Than the Beatles" (1995)
Jason Aldean Pays Tribute to Diffie:In 2012, the song "1994" appeared on Jason Aldean's Night Train. The hick-hop tune included a chorus that name-checked Diffie. The verses made playful references to the singer's hit songs "Third Rock from the Sun," "Honky Tonk Attitude," and "Pickup Man."
"When I heard it, I was stunned," Diffie told CMT. "I was like, 'You gotta be kidding me.' It's pretty flattering they went that far with it. It's one thing to hear a song title or your name mentioned, but when it started into the 'Joe. Joe. Joe Diffie' part, that's cool right there."
The Return of the Mullet?
While Aldean warmed to the possibility of Diffie appearing in a video for the song, he insisted on one stipulation: Diffie had to sport his '90s-era hairstyle.
"I don't want him to be like clean-cut Diffie now," the singer said at a press event. "I want him to be like '90s, full-mullet Diffie. He needs to start growing his hair out a little bit."
Regular Joe (1992, Epic Records)
Diffie's second album doesn't feature many of his biggest hits (you can pick up any of his greatest hits collections, if that's what you're after). But it does boast a great collection of traditional-minded country songs. Diffie channels Jimmie Rodgers on "Startin' Over Blues," bemoans a freezing relationship on "Is It Cold in Here," and dishes out a little Bakersfield country on "Next Thing Smokin.'"