Joe Diffie was a breakout star in the 1990s, and he was a major influence on a number of today’s biggest country stars, including Jason Aldean. Do you remember when Aldean paid tribute to Diffie in a hit song?
Aldean released “1994” as the third single from his Night Train album in 2013. Thomas Rhett, Luke Laird and Barry Dean co-wrote the song, which gives lyrical references to a number of Diffie’s hits, including “Third Rock From the Sun,” “John Deere Green,” “Ships That Don’t Come In,” “Honky Tonk Attitude,” “Pickup Man” and more.
The chorus is an outright, unabashed tribute to Diffie in which Aldean chants, “Hey, Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie!”
“I mean, what else can you say but what an honor it is to have the larger part of a song reference songs of mine,” Diffie told Billboard upon the song’s release. “To think all of Jason’s fans will be chanting my name… pretty dang cool.”
“Every time I hear the song, it puts a huge grin on my face,” Diffie added. “It makes me feel that what I worked so hard at actually mattered to someone.”
Diffie’s influence is felt in a number of younger contemporary acts. Country stars turned to social media to pay tribute to his influence after he died on March 29, 2020, at the age of 61 after battling the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). He had first announced he had tested positive for the virus just two days prior.
Aldean was among the stars who paid tribute to Diffie after his death. He turned to social media to write, “This guy was an amazing singer and an even greater person. Such a sad week for the country music world. Joe was always so much fun to be around and I will never forget our Panama City show with @tylerfarr and @therealtracylawrence…We will miss u my friend. Thanks for teaching us how to ‘Diffie’.”
Aldean added the hashtag #1994.
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