On the night of September 1, 2023, legendary singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett – who epitomized folksy tales of living and loving on tropical sandy beaches with a cold drink in hand – passed away peacefully in his home in Sag Harbor on Long Island, New York. He was “surrounded by his family, friends, music, and dogs.” Buffett was 76.
It was later revealed that Buffett had been battling Merkel cell skin cancer – a rare, aggressive skin cancer that often begins in skin areas exposed to the sun – for four years. The “Margaritaville” singer went on performing while undergoing cancer treatments.
If you recall, he was forced to reschedule a concert with his Coral Reefer band at Credit One Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina, in May 2023 after a trip to the hospital “to address some issues that needed immediate attention.” His last performance was on July 11, 2023, as a surprise guest at a concert by Coral Reefer Band members in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
Music superstars such as Alan Jackson, Elton John, and Blake Shelton, among others, took to social media to honor the music icon. Kenny Chesney took one’s hat off to Buffett by sharing a video of him singing the first verse and chorus of the latter’s single “A Pirate Looks at Forty.” He also posted a video of himself performing “Margaritaville.”
President Joe Biden also paid tribute to Buffet, who he referred to as an “American music icon who inspired generations.”
Before He Became The Legendary Billionaire Singer-Songwriter, We All Know
Born on December 25, 1946, in Pascagoula, Mississippi – but spent his early formative years in Mobile, Alabama – Jimmy Buffet developed a love for musical theater when he was only a young boy. Thanks to his mother, who would often take him to shows at the Mobile Theatre Guild in Alabama.
In college, he began to learn to play the guitar, hoping he would impress girls. Buffett said this mission did not succeed, but this made his ambitions quickly grow.
After Buffett graduated, earning a bachelor’s degree in history, he often held street performances. He played for drunken crowds at nightclubs in New Orleans. To further his career in music, Buffett moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he briefly worked as a writer for Billboard magazine.
In 1970, Buffett finally released his first album, Down to Earth. However, he didn’t break through until seven years later – when he released “Margaritaville” from the album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.
The song ranked No. 1 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart, climbing to No. 8 on Billboard Hot 100 and No. 13 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. In 2016, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for its cultural and historical significance.
The song has indeed defined the Mississippi native’s music and career. Buffet even took advantage of the tropical “island escapism” lifestyle that his devotees sought after his music by launching many business ventures that sell this lifestyle. That includes a series of Margaritaville restaurants across the United States, multiple licensed hotels, casinos, cruise experiences, and so much more.
Of course, his legions of loyal fans, known as ParrotHeads, would flock to his business ventures. In fact, Forbes noted that Buffet had a net worth of $1 billion during his death.
Truly, there’s only a few as legendary as Jimmy Buffett. He will forever be remembered.