(June 2004) Country music celebrity Joe Diffie didnt
grow up wanting to be a singer. I always wanted to be a doctor,
he said in a May 4 telephone interview.
Fate, however, had other things in mind for the Tulsa, Okla., native.
Instead of prescribing pills, Diffie has relied on his voice to soothe
the souls of fans. And from the looks of things, his unique brand
of musical medicine seems to be a cure-all. Since beginning a country
music recording career in 1990, he has had 10 No. 1 records and more
than $6 million in sales.
Diffie, 45, will perform some of the medicinal tunes from his latest
release, Tougher Than Nails, as well as a few traditional
favorites at the Kentucky Speedway during the second annual Meijer
Country Stampede, June 3-6. In addition to Diffie performing over
the course of the four-day event will be 18 artists, including Neal
McCoy, Martina McBride and Reba McEntire.
Despite not initially considering music as a career choice, Diffie
was never isolated from the art. By age 4, he was singing along with
his aunts country band. A major influence were his parents,
he said. Diffies mother sang and his father, a self-taught musician,
played guitar, banjo and piano.
Playing with local Tulsa bands through his teens and early 20s, Diffie
became more intrigued with singing and songwriting. As I got
older and got into singing and playing with different groups, I got
more and more interested in (music), he said.
Scrapping the idea of a medical profession, in 1986 Diffie headed
to Nashville, Tenn., where he started out singing demos of songs that
were subsequently pitched to other artists. A job in a Nashville-area
Gibson guitar plant helped pay the rent while Diffie pursued his goal
of making it big in Music City.
Diffie also wrote songs for other singers. His first big success was
Love on the Rocks, recorded by Hank Thompson. He later
co-wrote There Goes My Heart Again, which became a No.
1 hit for Holly Dunn in 1989.
Diffie signed a recording contract of his own with Epic Records and
in 1990 released A Thousand Winding Roads, which produced
several hits including Diffies first No. 1, Home.
Over the following decade, he released nine additional albums featuring
memorable hits like If The Devil Danced (1991), Prop
Me Up Beside The Juke Box (If I Die) (1993), and Third
Rock From The Sun (1994).
Diffies latest recording and first with Broken Bow Records,
Tougher Than Nails, is scheduled for release June 1. He
described it as reminiscent of his first album, which hes often
told is a fan favorite.
Its kind of a back to basics kind of thing with me,
he said. Included among the 12 tracks are fun, Diffie-esque tunes
such as The More You Drink The Better I Look, and My
Redneck of the Woods as well as soulful ballads like If
I Could Bring You Back and Am I. The title track,
a song about a father teaching his son some valuable life lessons,
reminded him of his own upbringing, Diffie said.
Diffie recorded the albums first track, What Would Waylon
Do? with country legend George Jones.
That was awesome. Its always great when you can get one
of your heroes to collaborate with you, Diffie said of working
with Jones, who he has been friends with for several years. The last
time the two recorded together was in 1993 on the duet I Dont
Need Your Rocking Chair, for which they earned a CMA Award.
Working on Tougher Than Nails on and off since last May
has consumed much of his focus and energy, Diffie said. In addition
to promoting the release with more than 30 concerts planned on the
Rockin Roadhouse Tour, also consuming much of Diffies
attention will be his fifth child. He and wife Theresa, on May 1 had
a baby girl, Kylie Tarissa Diffie.
Diffie will highlight the opening night concert of the Meijer Country
Stampede at 9:30 p.m. EDT following performances by Colt Prather,
Andy Griggs and Mark Chesnutt. Gates will open 4 p.m. EDT on Thursday,
June 3, with the first concert scheduled to begin at 4:30. Concerts
will begin at 1 p.m. EDT on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 4-6.
Tickets are $75 for all four days or $50 for a single day. One-day
tickets are $30 if purchased in advance at any Meijer food store location.
For more information, visit www.countrystampede.com
or call 1-800-795-8091.