Conspiracy theorists falsely claim country singer Joe Diffie died of lung cancer to downplay coronavirus threat
Legendary country singer Joe Diffie's tragic death from COVID-19 complications has sparked a wave of conspiracy theories online, with some citing his death to claim that health officials are exaggerating the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Diffie was a country megastar in the 1990s and topped the charts with honky-tonk singles including “Home” and “Pickup Man." On March 29, he succumbed to the deadly virus in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 61.
Following his death, several social media users on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter went on to falsely claim that news media were hiding the fact that he had lung cancer. Diffie did not have have lung cancer. The baseless claims reportedly stemmed from an obituary posted online for Joe Diffie Sr., his father, who died from cancer in November 2018.
According to a report by Billboard, the unsubstantiated claim about Diffie's death is one of many that internet sleuths are seeking to downplay the impact of the novel coronavirus.
Several conspiracy theorists have claimed that the danger of the virus, which has infected millions worldwide, has been overblown by health officials, world leaders, and media outlets. Tara Terpening Diffie, the country legend's widow, has now urged people to stop spreading misinformation about her husband. She is now hoping to set the record straight about her husband's death so her family can grieve for Diffie and celebrate his timeless legacy.
“There have been some untrue statements about my late husband that are false and hurtful,” Tara Terpening Diffie wrote in a statement on Instagram. “Joe did not have lung cancer and was a healthy, loving father, husband, and friend. He also kept a very busy touring schedule and loved his fans who’ve supported him all these years.”
A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Diffie succumbed to COVID-19 just days after announcing he had contracted the disease.
The Grand Ole Opry member's legacy included mid-90s albums 'Honky Tonk Attitude' and 'Third Rock From the Sun', which went platinum. Eighteen of Diffie’s singles landed in the top 10 on the country charts, with five going No. 1. In his 2013 single “1994,” Jason Aldean name-checked the ’90s country mainstay.
Diffie shared in a Grammy award for best country collaboration for the song “Same Old Train,” with Merle Haggard, Marty Stuart, and others. His last solo album was 2010′s “The Bluegrass Album: Homecoming.”
“Joe was a real true honky-tonk hero to every country artist alive today,” singer John Rich said at the time of his death. “No one sang our music better than he did, and to see his life and artistry cut short is beyond tragic. He was loved, cherished, and respected by all of country music and beyond.”
Meanwhile, Toby Keith extended his condolences to Diffie’s family, saying in a statement, “A great traditional voice will live on cuz I’m putting his music on now. Here’s a beer to ya, Joe. Go get your reward.”
Deanna Carter said she was “shell shocked” by the news and had hoped to perform again with Diffie this year. “He was a powerhouse that stopped people in their tracks, both on and off stage,” she said in a statement.
Diffie is survived by his wife, Tara Terpening Diffie, and seven children from four marriages.