The infamous singer-songwriter, Jimmy Buffett who made the beach-bum life into an empire has died. He was 76.
In a statement posted on Buffett’s website, “Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, music and dogs.”
The website announcement continued, “He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”
It is unknown at this time what caused the singer’s death. Illness had forced Buffett to reschedule live shows earlier this year, but on Buffett’s social media, there were posts acknowledging the singer had been hospitalized. No specifics were published though.
James William Buffett was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi on Christmas Day in 1946. He was raised in Mobile, Alabama and graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi.
His career started in New Orleans, Louisiana playing at Bourbon Street Clubs six nights a week.
His biggest hit, “Margaritaville”, was written in Austin, Texas after Buffett met a friend for lunch at a Mexican restaurant and they began drinking margaritas before he was dropped off at the airport.
Buffett said in an interview with the Republic, “And I kind of came up with that idea of this is just like Margarita-ville.”
Buffett worked on the song on his flight home to the Keys and finished it on the drive home.
“There was a wreck on the bridge,” he said. “And we got stopped for about an hour so I finished the song on the Seven Mile Bridge, which I thought was apropos.”
“Margaritaville” was released on February 14, 1977. It became a cultural phenomenon giving permission to live a life of low-key fun and escapism for those “growing older, but not up.”
His album “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” spent 22 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at the number 8 spot.
The hit song was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016 for its’ historical significance, becoming an unofficial theme song for Key West, Florida.
In 2021, Buffett told the Arizona Republic, “There was no such place as Margaritaville.”
The singer continued, “It was a made-up place in my mind, basically made up about my experiences in Key West and having to leave Key West and go on the road to work and then come back and spend time by the beach.”
The song turned Buffett’s simple life vision into a multimillion dollar brand, landing him on Forbes list of Richest Celebrities of All Time with a net work of $1 billion.
Buffett has performed on more than 50 studio and live albums, often with his Coral Reefer Band that was constantly touring. He also earned two Grammy nominations, two Academy of Country Music, and a Country Music Association Award.
Buffett was also an author of several books including “A Pirate Looks at Fifty” and “Where is Joe Marchant”, and co-produced and co-starred in an adaptation of the Carl Hiaasen novel “Hoot”.
Buffett is survived by his wife, Jane, daughters Savannah and Sarah, and son, Cameron.