The country newcomer got the people on their feet with a twang-filled rendition of the legendary star’s signature hit. As the fiddle sawed and guitar wailed, members of the limited audience at the Music City Center rose to their feet clapping and singing along, including Ashley McBryde, who sang along with tablemate Miranda Lambert, as Caylee Hammack, Luke Combs’ wife Nicole Combs and Diffie’s wife Tara Diffie danced to the familiar tune, Pardi doing Diffie’s memory proud.
“I will be happy to be waving the Joe Diffie flag and ’90s country at the CMA Awards,” Pardi told The Country Daily ahead of the show.
“Pickup Man” was featured on Diffie’s 1994 album Third Rock From the Sun and served as his longest-running number one hit, sitting at the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for four weeks between 1994 and 1995.
Diffie passed away in March at the age of 61 from complications from COVID-19, leaving the country music community in mourning for the icon.