Country singer Joe Diffie, who had a string of hits in the 1990s with chart-topping ballads and honky-tonk singles like "Home" and "Pickup Man," has died after testing positive for COVID-19. He was 61.
Diffie on Friday announced he had contracted the coronavirus, becoming the first country star to go public with such a diagnosis. Diffie's publicist Scott Adkins said the singer died Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee, due to complications from the virus.
Diffie, a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for more than 25 years. His hits included "Honky Tonk Attitude," "Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die)," "Bigger Than the Beatles" and "If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)."
"Country music lost one of the good guys today," Naomi Judd said in a statement.
Diffie's mid-90s albums "Honky Tonk Attitude" and "Third Rock From the Sun" 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 Diffie, one of our best singers and my buddy, is gone," Tanya Tucker said in a statement. "We are the same age, so it's very scary. I will miss his voice, his laughter, his songs."
"Joe was a real true honky tonk hero to every country artist alive today," singer John Rich said in a statement. "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."
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.
The Kanye West and Taylor Swift public beef has reignited again with the ongoing feud now involving his wife and Swift's publicist.
Swift's publicist, Tree Paine, fired back Monday night at Kim Kardashian West, who had defended herself after someone released a video, clipped into segments, of the full 25-minute conversation of Kanye West and Swift discussing his song "Famous." Kardashian West posted several tweets Monday to address Swift who said in a statement earlier in the day on Instagram that she was illegally recorded in the "manipulated" video.
West was condemned for a lyric in which he called Swift a bitch in his 2016 song "Famous." The rapper said Swift gave her blessing to use the lyric during a phone call, but the singer denied ever hearing the lyric.
The new footage of the phone call between West and Swift was posted online from an unknown source Friday night.
The new clips seem to corroborate Swift's claims that West didn't tell her the full lyrics of the song. But they also show West repeatedly asking Taylor for her approval of a lyric in which he raps: "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex, Why? I made that bitch famous." Swift does tell West she thinks it's funny, just as the rapper said when the song first was released.
Previously, Kardashian West seemed to vindicate her husband — months later — by releasing snippets of the call where Swift appeared to approve the lyrics. She said in a tweet Monday that Swift lied through her publicist that "Kanye never called to ask for permission."
In response, Paine said in her tweet Monday that West did not call to get the lyric approved from Swift. She said West asked Swift if she could release the song on her Twitter account but she declined.
Renowned jazz man Manu Dibango, to many the beloved "Papy Groove" who served as an inspiration and pioneer in his art, died on Tuesday with the coronavirus, his official Facebook page announced. He was 86.
The saxophonist who inspired what is known as "world music" was recently hospitalized with an illness "linked to COVID-19," his official Facebook page said last Wednesday, adding that he was "resting well and calmly recovering."
The announcement did not say where he had been hospitalized, but Dibango, who was born in Cameroon, was known to live in France.
"He can't wait to meet you again," the earlier message said. That was not to be.
The artist inspired "world music" in the 1970s with the song "Soul Makossa."
Funeral services were to be "held in strict privacy" followed by a tribute "when possible," Tuesday's announcement said. Funerals in France have been limited to 20 people who are in the closest circle of the deceased because of a lockdown to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Broadway actress Ruthie Ann Miles, who tragically lost her daughter and unborn child two years ago, is pregnant.
The Tony-winner shared on Twitter Saturday that she is due this spring.
In 2018, Miles and her 4-year-old daughter Abigail were struck by a vehicle on a New York street that killed Abigail and a friend's 1-year-old son. Miles was pregnant at the time of the crash and lost her unborn daughter, who she planned to name Sophia, two months later.
In her Twitter message announcing the pregnancy, Miles thanked those who supported her and her husband Jonathan Blumenstein after the crash and let them grieve for the past two years.
"We know Abigail Joy and Sophia would have loved being big sisters and are loving watching their family grow," Miles wrote.
The intrepid and daring Phryne Fisher, last seen in an internationally popular TV mystery series, is getting the welcome back she deserves in "Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears."
In the movie debuting Monday on the Acorn TV streaming service, star Essie Davis' amateur sleuth plunges into a case that encompasses ancient curses and 1929 turmoil in the Middle East. She also further tests the affections of her admirer, Melbourne police detective inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page).
One flourish missing from Phryne's return after five years: The film's planned big-screen release in select cities, which was stymied by the coronavirus-forced closure of theaters. Before that happened, fans of the 2012-15 series "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries" made showings in New York City and elsewhere a success.
"Given the enthusiastic response from U.S. fans to attend several sold out screenings and dress in 1920s fashion, we're sorry we can't offer the film theatrically at this time, but we're glad to make it easily accessible" via streaming, said Matthew Graham, Acorn TV's general manager.
Theaters have expressed interest in re-booking the film that boasts big-screen worthy production values, including elegant costumes and sweeping desert scenes shot in Morocco. But the project's true charm is Phryne herself and Davis' portrayal of a bold, self-reliant woman who makes her own way in the world with guts and style and without apology. The tone of the movie, written by series co-creator Deb Cox, is gleefully feminist.
"She has no respect for the rules," a male character harrumphs after witnessing a display of Phryne's determination.
"That's because they tend to be written by men," she retorts.
Davis, a respected stage actor whose screen credits include "The Babadook" and "Game of Thrones," said she was delighted to bring back Phryne, whom she describes as a "real James Bond, Indiana Jones" hero.
"It's like revisiting an old friend," Davis said of the character drawn from Australian writer Kerry Greenwood's mystery novels.
"She's a woman of independent means who completely rejoices in her independence, but really cares about other people at the same time. She's very happy to love any man who she wants to love, as much as she wants to love, and as frequently as she would like," Davis said, with the last few words punctuated by a chortle.
As devotees are well aware, the peripatetic Miss Fisher grew up in Australia, attended boarding school in England, was a World War I ambulance driver in France and lived the high life in post-war Europe before returning to Melbourne to put her smarts and charm to use as a well-heeled private eye and, at times, make poor Jack thoroughly miserable.
While knowing the background enriches the story, newcomers can enjoy the film as "a meal in itself. People who have never seen the series love it as action adventure, romance, murder mystery that is satisfying in itself," Davis said.
The movie, which had its Australian premiere last month, owes a tip of the hat to its devoted fans. An online fundraising campaign in 2017 reached its 30-day goal of $250,000 in under 48 hours, and donations continued to roll in for the film reportedly budgeted at $8 million by Every Cloud Productions, which also produced the series.
Making the most of relatively modest funding for the 100-minute film, Melbourne's Victorian-era public buildings and private mansions helped the city double for 1929 London at points in the film directed by Tony Tilse. Among the grand properties on display: the National Trust's Labassa and Ripponlea estates and the Victorian government-owned Werribee Mansion.
The filming in Morocco was memorable for Davis. It took place in the town of Ouarzazate, which has hosted other productions. Besides the magnificent Sahara desert, she said, they made use of existing sets that included an "incredible" one from filmmaker Ridley Scott's 2005 "Kingdom of Heaven."
She admits to a less appealing moment on set.
"Here we are in the Sahara, where they shot 'The English Patient,' and it's incredible and beautiful. But tummy upsets and linen suits don't necessarily go together," Davis said, with a rueful laugh.
While she predicts audiences will find the film's conclusion satisfying — "Like the cat that ate the cream" — there is potential for more Fisher movie adventures, depending on the audience's response and, crucially, what the script might be.
"'I'm up for any great story, because Phryne is a great character, and we always have to see her growing and changing and doing things that we've never seen her do before," Davis said. "Otherwise it's just boring, and I would rather not bore myself or anyone else."