Member Since 1993
Known for his vocal range, Joe Diffie is a much-respected interpreter of both traditional and more modern country songs. His warm voice and clear phrasing of lyrics have proven to be crowd pleasing whether he’s singing ballads or more rambunctious numbers.
With that range, Joe was a dominant singer through the 1990s, with four gold or platinum albums, some 17 Top 10 hits, and more than 6 million in record sales at Epic Records. Those early hits included “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets),” “New Way (To Light Up an Old Flame),” “Home,” and “Ships That Don’t Come In.” During the mid-’90s, Joe's hits continued with the likes of “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die),” “Bigger Than the Beatles,” and “Third Rock from the Sun.”
Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in a musical family, his first public performance was in his aunt’s country band at the age of four. By the time he was in college, he’d seen stints in a rock band, gospel group, and a bluegrass band, signs of that flexibility to come. After school, Joe worked on songwriting while handling a day job at an iron foundry. He had his first break when country legend Hank Thompson recorded his song “Love on the Rocks.” (In 2002, Joe and Hank were inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame simultaneously.) That initial success encouraged him to head for Nashville in 1986.
Joe’s deep knowledge of country music and “quick study” abilities rapidly attracted attention in the songwriting and publishing community.
In between shifts at the Gibson Guitar warehouse, Joe sang demos on “I’ve Cried My Last Tear for You” (later a hit for Ricky Van Shelton), “Born Country” (likewise for Alabama), and “You Don’t Count the Cost” (Billy Dean). Charley Pride, the Forrester Sisters, Tracy Lawrence, and Doug Stone all recorded his songs. In 1989, Holly Dunn topped the charts with “There Goes My Heart Again,” a song Joe co-wrote. That contract with Epic to begin recording himself soon followed. Joe has since had a #1 song in Europe titled "Long Gone Loner" and is currently working on a new studio album.
Joe recalls his first appearance at the Opry well. “It really is, you know, a scary thing,” he says, “especially when you’ve revered the Opry, heard so much about it, and cared so much about it. So to get to come out there and sing was just terrifying—really scary. But now it feels comfortable, of course!”
Homecoming: The Bluegrass Album