“Margaritaville” singer Jimmy Buffett, who made the life of beach goers into an empire, has died at the age of 76

Singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, who popularized beachbums soft rock with the escapist, Caribbean-tinged song “Margaritaville” and turned this celebration of laziness into a billion-dollar empire of restaurants, resorts and frozen foods, has died. He was 76.

“Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1 surrounded by family, friends, music and dogs,” read a statement released late Friday on Buffett’s official website and social media pages. “He lived his life like a song to his last breath and is sorely missed by so many.”

The statement did not specify where Buffett died or provide a cause of death. An illness had forced him to reschedule concerts in May, and Buffett admitted on social media posts that he had been hospitalized, but didn’t provide any details.

“Margaritaville,” released February 14, 1977, quickly took on a life of its own, becoming a state of mind for those who “squander” and an excuse for a life of fun and escapism for those who “grow.” older, but not up.”

The song is the leisurely portrait of a lounger on his porch, watching tourists sunbathe while a pot of shrimp begins to boil. The singer has a new tattoo, probably a hangover and regrets a lost love. There’s a misplaced salt shaker somewhere.

“What seems like a simple ditty about Blotto and healing a broken heart turns out to be a profound meditation on the often painful inertia of beach life,” wrote Spin magazine in 2021. “Tourists come and go, a group that indistinguishable from them.” others. Waves pound and break, whether anyone is there to watch or not. Everything that matters has already happened and you don’t even know when.”

The song – from the album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes – stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 22 weeks, peaking at number 8. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016 for its cultural and historical significance to the karaoke standard and helped establish Key West, Florida as a music genre in its own right and a world-renowned travel destination.

“There wasn’t a place like Margaritaville,” Buffett told the Arizona Republic in 2021. “It was a made-up place in my mind that basically grew out of my experiences in Key West and the need to get off Key West and onto the road.” going to work and then coming back and spending time at the beach.”

The song soon inspired restaurants and resorts, turning Buffett’s supposed desire for the simplicity of island life into a multimillion-dollar brand. With a net worth of $1 billion, he was ranked 18th on Forbes list of richest celebrities of all time.

Buffett’s “Music has brought happiness to millions of people. I will always be grateful for his kindness, generosity and great accomplishments over the years,” former President Bill Clinton wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Music critics have never been kind to Buffett or his catalogue, including songs from sand beach snack bars like “Fins,” “Come Monday,” and “Cheeseburgers in Paradise.” But his legions of fans, known as “Parrotheads,” regularly attended his concerts wearing toy parrots, cheeseburgers, sharks and flamingos on their heads, leis around their necks, and flashy Hawaiian shirts.

“It’s pure escapism,” he told the Republic. “I’m not the first to do this, and I probably won’t be the last. But I think it’s human nature to have fun. You need to say goodbye to whatever you do to earn a living or any other area of ​​your life that is weighing you down. I try to make work at least 50/50 fun and so far it’s worked out.”

His distinctive Gulf Coast mix of country, pop, folk and rock added instruments and tonalities more commonly found in the Caribbean, such as steel drums. It was a stew of steel pans, trombones and pedal steel guitar. Buffett’s incredible flair for hooks and easy grooves has often been overshadowed by his lyrics about fish tacos and sunsets.

Rolling Stone gave grudging approval in a review of Buffett’s 2020 album Life on the Flip Side. “He continues to craft his surfy, sandy corner of pop-music utopia with the cool, friendly warmth of a multi-millionaire you’d happily share a tropical-style IPA with at 3 p.m., especially with his gold card on the bar during the last.” Round came.”

On Saturday, tributes came from all walks of life, from Hollywood star Miles Teller, who posted photos of himself with Buffett, to former U.S. Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, who wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that Buffett “spent life in will miss him.” Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys wrote, “Love and mercy, Jimmy Buffett.”

Buffett’s evolving brand began in 1985 with the opening of a string of Margaritaville-style shops and restaurants in Key West, followed by the opening of the first Margaritaville coffee shop nearby in 1987. Several more were each opened in Florida over the next two decades , New Orleans and California.

The brand has since expanded into dozens of categories, including resorts, men’s and women’s apparel and footwear, a radio station, a beer brand, iced tea, tequila and rum, home decor, foods like salad dressing, Margaritaville Crunchy Pimento Cheese & Shrimp Bites, and Margaritaville Cantina Style Medium Chunky Salsa, the Margaritaville at Sea cruise line and restaurants including Margaritaville Restaurant, JWB Prime Steak and Seafood, 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill and LandShark Bar & Grill.

There was also a Broadway jukebox musical, Escape to Margaritaville, a romantic comedy in which a singer and bartender named Tully falls in love with the far more career-oriented Rachel, who is vacationing with friends and hanging out at the Hotel Margaritaville Bar where Sully works.

James William Buffett was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi on Christmas Day 1946 and grew up in the port city of Mobile, Alabama. He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and began busking in New Orleans, performing six nights a week in clubs on Bourbon Street.

In 1970 he released his first record, Down To Earth, and released seven more in a regular annual clip, with his 1974 song “Come Monday” from his fourth studio album Living and Dying in ¾ Time reaching number one. 30. Then came “Margaritaville.”

He has appeared on more than 50 studio and live albums, often accompanied by his Coral Reefer Band, and has been on the road constantly. He received two Grammy Award nominations, two Academy of Country Music Awards and a Country Music Association Award.

Buffett was actually in Austin, Texas when the inspiration for “Margaritaville” came to him. He and a friend had lunch at a Mexican restaurant before she dropped him off at the airport to fly home to Key West, so they started drinking margaritas.

“And I kind of got the idea that this is just like Margaritaville,” Buffett told Republic. “She kind of laughed about it and put me on the plane. And I started working on it.”

He wrote some of them on the plane and finished them while driving across the Keys. “There was a wreck on the bridge,” he said. “And we got stopped for about an hour, so I ended the song on the Seven Mile Bridge, which I thought was fitting.”

Buffett is also the author of numerous books, including Where Is Joe Merchant? and A Pirate Looks At Fifty, and added films to his resume as co-producer and co-starr in an adaptation of Carl Hiaasen’s novel Hoot.

Buffett is survived by his wife, Jane; daughters, Savannah and Sarah; and son Cameron.

Justin Scaccy

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