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Country Stampede II

Tulsa singer Diffie finds success
after first writing songs for others

By Ruth Wright
Staff Writer

(June 2004) – Country music celebrity Joe Diffie didn’t grow up wanting to be a singer. “I always wanted to be a doctor,” he said in a May 4 telephone interview.

Joe Diffie

Photo provided

Joe Diffie

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 aunt’s country band. A major influence were his parents, he said. Diffie’s 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 Diffie’s 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).
Diffie’s 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 he’s often told is a fan favorite.
“It’s 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 album’s first track, “What Would Waylon Do?” with country legend George Jones.
“That was awesome. It’s 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 Don’t 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 Diffie’s 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.

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