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The country star was 61

The country star was 61
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Joe Diffie performs at the Grand Ole Opry Sept. 12, 2006 during a special tribute to George Jones for his 75th birthday. One of Diffie biggest hits is "John Deere Green."

Joe Diffie, a Grammy Award-winning country music hitmaker, died Sunday from coronavirus complications. He was 61. 

Diffie’s representative Scott Adkins confirmed his death in a news release. 

The singer told fans Friday that he tested positive for the virus and asked for privacy as he received treatment.

“We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic,” Diffie said in his statement last week. Earlier this month, he postponed a concert in Georgia, citing coronavirus concerns.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Diffie enjoyed a consistent run of country hits in the early 1990s. “Pickup Man” was among five chart-toppers he scored in the first half of the decade.

He moved to Nashville in 1986, after losing his factory job in Oklahoma.

“When I got laid off, I was like, ‘Well, you know what, I think I’m just going to try it,’ ” he told radio host Bobby Bones in 2019. “I just loaded up everything I could get in this old beat up car I had, and off I went.”

Earlier:Country singer Jan Howard, the Grand Ole Opry’s senior member, dies at 91

He took a job at the Gibson guitar plant, and sang on demos for songs that would become hits for Ricky Van Shelton, Alabama and Billy Dean. After scoring his first hit as a songwriter (Holly Dunn’s “There Goes My Heart Again”), Diffie signed a record deal with Epic, and success immediately followed.

He topped the charts with his very first single. 1990’s “Home” was a natural fit for a young man chasing fame and fortune in Music City, but in its lyrics, he surmised “the only treasures that I’ll ever know / Are long ago and far behind and wrapped up in my memories of home.”

First appeared on USA Today.

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