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‘Pickup Man’ & More: Joe Diffie’s Biggest Billboard Hits

The late singer-songwriter scored 17 top 10s, including five No. 1s, on the Hot Country Songs chart.

Joe Diffie, who died from complications stemming from COVID-19 Sunday, March 29 at age 61, became a staple of country radio in the early 1990s and a force on Billboard‘s charts throughout the decade and beyond.

Diffie tallied 35 entries on the Hot Country Songs survey from 1990 through 2004, with the bulk released on Epic Records. Of those, 17 hit the top 10, with five rising to No. 1, beginning with his debut single “Home,” which led the list dated Nov. 10, 1990.

“There’s a lot of potential in this guy. I love his voice,” Rick Stevens, then-program director of KRRV Alexandria, La., mused of Diffie in the Billboard issue dated Aug. 4, 1990. Said John Saville, then-music director of WWYZ Hartford, Conn., “If you like George Strait, Clint Black and Merle Haggard, you’re gonna love Joe Diffie. He has the best elements of everybody.”


On Top Country Albums, Diffie charted 12 titles from 1990 through 2013, including two top 10s: 1993’s Honky Tonk Attitude and 1994’s Third Rock From the Sun. The sets reached Nos. 10 and 6, respectively.

In his career, Diffie’s songs drew 225 million on-demand audio streams, while he sold 4 million albums in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data.

Diffie additionally co-wrote Holly Dunn’s “There Goes My Heart Again,” a No. 4 Hot Country Songs hit in 1989, and Jo Dee Messina’s 2005 No. 1 “My Give a Damn’s Busted.”

Meanwhile, Diffie drew shout-outs in Jason Aldean’s “1994,” a No. 10 hit in 2013, with Aldean singing, “1994, Joe Diffie comin’ out my radio,” and name-checking multiple Diffie hits and repeating his name. “He’s one of the best vocalists we’ve had in this town in years,” Aldean told Billboard of Diffie in 2012. Said Diffie of the song, written by Thomas Rhett, Luke Laird and Barry Dean, “Jason’s found a really cool niche and he dang sure delivered. To think 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.”

Here is a recap of Diffie’s 20 biggest hits on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart.

Joe Diffie’s Biggest Billboard Hits

1, “Pickup Man,” No. 1 peak (4 weeks), 1994
2, “Third Rock From the Sun, No. 1 (2 weeks), 1994
3, “Bigger Than the Beatles,” No. 1 (2 weeks), 1996
4, “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets),” No. 1 (1 week), 1991
5, “Home,” No. 1 (1 week), 1990
6, “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die),” No. 3, 1993
7, “New Way (To Light Up an Old Flame),” No. 2, 1991
8, “John Deere Green,” No. 5, 1994
9, “Ships That Don’t Come In,” No. 5, 1992
10, “If You Want Me To,” No. 2, 1991
11, “So Help Me Girl,” No. 2, 1995
12, “Honky Tonk Attitude,” No. 5, 1993
13, “Is It Cold in Here,” No. 5, 1992
14, “It’s Always Somethin’,” No. 5, 2000
15, “Texas Size Heartache,” No. 4, 1998
16, “A Night to Remember,” No. 6, 1999
17, “In Another World,” No. 10, 2002
18, “Tougher Than Nails,” No. 19, 2004
19, “Next Thing Smokin’,” No. 16, 1992
20, “Not Too Much to Ask” (Mary Chapin Carpenter with Diffie), No. 15, 1992

Joe Diffie’s Biggest Billboard Hits are based on actual performance on the weekly Hot Country Songs chart, through the March 28, 2020, ranking. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at lower ranks earning lesser values. Due to changes in chart methodology over the years, certain eras are weighted to account for different chart turnover rates over various periods.