Jimmy Buffett Dies at 76: Jimmy Buffett, widely known for “Margaritaville,” died at 76. “Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1 surrounded by his family, friends, music, and dogs,” his website announced. He lived his life like a song until the end and will be missed by many.” The reason for death is unknown.
Buffett’s 50-year career blended country, pop, and tropical elements. He only had one top-10 hit, “Margaritaville,” which reached No. 8 on the national charts and became a relaxation anthem. Fans, termed “parrot heads” and wearing avian-themed caps at his concerts, loved his music.
Buffett’s entrepreneurial mentality made his music a brand. Forbes estimated his 2016 net worth at $500 million. His Margaritaville brand, which included apparel, footwear, restaurants, resorts, and LandShark Lager beer, spent over $4.8 billion in development and sold $1.5 billion annually.
Buffett had four platinum and eight gold studio albums. His 1985 compilation “Songs You Know by Heart” sold seven million copies, and his 1992 boxed set “Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads” sold four million. He wrote widely, including “Tales from Margaritaville,” “Where is Joe Merchant?” and “A Pirate Looks at Fifty,” which topped the New York Times bestseller list.
Buffett toured with his Coral Reefer Band into his old age. He co-billed an Eagles nationwide tour in 2018. “A Pirate Looks at Forty” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” were other hits during his concerts, drawing crowds in Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops. Christopher Ashley, director of the 2017 jukebox musical “Escape to Margaritaville,” described Buffett’s perennial appeal as a “bacchanalian quality” and “real strain of sadness,” underlining a “philosophical commitment to finding joy now.”
Buffett, born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on December 25, 1946, grew up in Mobile, Alabama, playing trombone and guitar in primary school. The University of Southern Mississippi graduate briefly worked as a Billboard Nashville stringer. He started his music career in Nashville before moving to the Florida Keys, where he developed his beachfront persona.
“A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean” and “Havana Daydreaming,” his first successes were Buffett’s early 1970s country hits. He made a million with “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” which included “Margaritaville.” Buffett’s large concert following led him to personal branding efforts like the Margaritaville retail outlet in Key West, despite his mediocre 1980s pop chart performances.
Buffett topped pop album charts with “License to Chill” (2004) and “Take the Weather With You” (2006) in his senior years. He has several No. 1 country hits, including “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” a 2003 duet with Alan Jackson. His second wife Jane, daughters Sarah and Savannah, and son Cameron survive Buffett. The world mourns the loss of a musician who epitomized American leisure and entrepreneurship, but his music and empire will live on.