Jimmy Buffett, the legendary musician known for his laid-back tunes and synonymous with the iconic ‘Margaritaville’ brand, passed away on September 1, as confirmed by a statement on his official website and social media accounts. He was 76.
The statement reported that Buffett passed away “peacefully, surrounded by his family, friends, music, and dogs. He lived his life like a song until the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”
Buffett had been facing undisclosed health challenges since 2022, which led to the cancellation of several of his shows. In May and June 2023, he canceled additional concerts due to health issues that required immediate attention.
Buffett’s career spanned over half a century, characterized by a dedicated fan base known as “Parrotheads.” These enthusiastic fans, recognizable by their Hawaiian shirts and tropical-themed attire, followed him to multiple concerts across the country.
While Buffett’s chart-topping hits were limited, his music, often referred to as “trap rock” or “Gulf and Western,” resonated deeply with fans. Hits like “Come Monday,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” and “Pencil Thin Mustache” featured his signature blend of acoustic guitar, steel drums, and pedal steel guitar.
Born on Christmas Day in 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi, Buffett’s love for sailing, inherited from his grandfather, played a significant role in his music. He began playing the guitar while attending Auburn University and subsequently moved to Nashville to launch his career, releasing his first country album, “Down to Earth,” in 1970.
However, it was a transformative trip to Key West in 1971 with fellow musician Jerry Jeff Walker that shifted Buffett’s musical direction towards Calypso folk-pop.
In addition to his music, Buffett displayed remarkable business acumen. In 1985, he opened the first Margaritaville store in Key West, followed by a Margaritaville Café two years later. These ventures marked the beginning of a business empire that included apparel, resorts, restaurants, beer (LandShark Lager), casinos, a radio station (Radio Margaritaville on SiriusXM), and even retirement communities named Latitude Margaritaville.
Forbes estimated the Margaritaville lifestyle brand’s worth at over $4.8 billion in the development pipeline, with annual sales surpassing $1.5 billion. As of June 2023, Buffett’s personal wealth was valued at $1 billion.
Buffett’s creative endeavors extended beyond music and business. He launched Margaritaville Records in the early ’90s, authored several fiction books, dabbled in film and television, and even ventured into Broadway with “Escape to Margaritaville.”
In a 2022 interview with USA TODAY, Buffett attributed his success to being “a sponge of ideas” and seizing unexpected opportunities.
Despite his impressive business portfolio, Buffett continued to create music throughout his career. His final album, “Life on the Flipside,” released in 2020, featured the song “Live Like It’s Your Last Day,” inspired by his experiences, including a 1994 plane crash and a stage fall in 2011.
Jimmy Buffett’s passing marks the end of an era for both music and business. His legacy as a musician, entrepreneur, and entertainer will undoubtedly endure, cherished by his devoted fans and admirers worldwide. He is survived by his second wife, Jane, their two daughters, Sarah and Savannah, and their son, Cameron.