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Jimmy Buffett, the ‘Margaritaville’ singer who turned his hobo life into an empire, dies at 76


A statement posted on Buffett’s official website and social media pages says the singer died on Friday, September 1, 2023 “surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs.”

Jimmy Buffett has died aged 76. PA

NEW YORK (AP) — Singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, who popularized beach bum soft rock with the Caribbean-flavored escape song “Margaritaville” and turned this celebration of lounging into an empire of one billion dollars worth of restaurants, resorts and frozen concoctions, has passed away. . He was 76 years old.

“Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1, surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs,” read a statement posted Friday evening on Buffett’s official website and social media. “He lived his life like a song until his last breath and he will be missed beyond measure by so many.”

The statement does not specify where Buffett died or the cause of death. Illness had forced him to postpone his concerts in May and Buffett acknowledged in social media posts that he had been hospitalized, but offered no details.

“Margaritaville,” released on February 14, 1977, quickly took on a life of its own, becoming a state of mind for those “wasting away,” an excuse for a life of low-key entertainment and escapism for those “growing up.” older, but not standing.

The song is an unhurried portrait of a slacker on his porch, watching tourists sunbathe as a pot of shrimp begins to boil. The singer has a new tattoo, a possible hangover and regrets for a lost love. Somewhere there is a misplaced salt shaker.

“What seems like a simple song about getting snuggled up and mending a broken heart turns out to be a deep meditation on the often painful inertia of beach life,” Spin magazine wrote in 2021. “Tourists come and go, an indistinguishable group from the rest. other. The waves rise and break whether someone is there to witness it or not. Anything that means something has already happened and you don’t even know when.

The song – from the album “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” – spent 22 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at number 8. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016 for its cultural and historical significance. , became a karaoke standard and helped make Key West, Florida a distinct musical sound and a world-famous destination.

“Margaritaville didn’t exist,” Buffett told the Arizona Republic in 2021. “It was a place invented in my mind, basically invented by my experiences in Key West and having to leave Key West and hit the road. . work, then come back to spend time at the beach.

The song quickly inspired restaurants and resorts, turning Buffett’s alleged desire for the simplicity of island living into a multi-million dollar brand. He landed at number 18 on Forbes list of the richest celebrities of all time, with a net worth of $1 billion.

Music critics have never been kind to Buffett or his catalog, including songs from beachside snack bars like “Fins,” “Come Monday,” and “Cheeseburgers in Paradise.” But his legions of fans, called “Parrotheads,” regularly came to his concerts wearing toy parrots, cheeseburgers, sharks and flamingos on their heads, necklaces around their necks and loud Hawaiian shirts.

“It’s pure escapism, that’s all,” he told Republic. “I’m not the first to do this, and I probably won’t be the last either. But I think it’s really part of the human condition that you have to have fun. You need to get away from whatever you do for a living or other aspects of life that stress you out. I try to make the job enjoyable 50/50 and so far it has worked.

His special blend of Gulf Coast country, pop, folk and rock added instruments and tones more commonly found in the Caribbean, such as steel drums. It was a stew of steelpans, trombones and pedal steel guitar. Buffett’s incredible ear for light hooks and grooves was often overshadowed by his lyrics about fish tacos and sunsets.

Rolling Stone, in a review of Buffett’s 2020 album “Life on the Flip Side,” begrudgingly gave props. “He continues to carve his surfing, sandy corner of pop music utopia with the cold, friendly warmth of a multi-millionaire who wouldn’t mind sharing a tropical-themed 3 p.m. IPA with, especially if his menu d’or was on the bar when the last round happened.

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

The evolution of the Buffett brand began in 1985 with the opening of a series of Margaritaville-themed stores and restaurants in Key West, followed in 1987 with the first nearby Margaritaville Café. Over the next two decades, several more establishments opened in Florida, 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, food items like salad dressing, Margaritaville Crunchy Pimento Cheese & Shrimp Bites and Margaritaville Cantina Style Medium Chunky Salsa, 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-bound jukebox musical, “Escape to Margaritaville,” a rom-com in which a singer-bartender named Sully falls for the much more career-minded Rachel, who is on vacation with friends and hang out at Margaritaville, the hotel. bar where Sully works.

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

He released his first record, “Down To Earth”, in 1970 and released seven more on a regular annual clip, featuring his 1974 song “Come Monday” from his fourth studio album “Living and Dying in ¾ Time”, peaking at number 1. 30. Then came “Margaritaville”.

He performed on over 50 studio and live albums, often accompanied by his Coral Reefer Band, and was constantly on tour. He has earned 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 came for “Margaritaville.” He and a friend had stopped for lunch at a Mexican restaurant before she dropped him off at the airport for a flight back to Key West, so they started drinking margaritas.

“And I kind of got the idea that it was like Margarita-ville,” Buffett told the Republic. “She kind of laughed it off and put me on the plane. And I started working on it.

He wrote a few on the plane and finished them on the way down the Keys. “There was wreckage on deck,” he said. “And we were stopped for about an hour, so I finished the song on the Seven Mile Bridge, which I found about.”

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

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

AP Entertainment writer Andrew Dalton contributed from Los Angeles.


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