Jimmy Buffett, the singer best known for his timeless party song, “Margaritaville,” died on Friday (Sep. 01, 2023). He was 76.
Buffett had been hospitalized in Boston in May to address undisclosed “issues that needed immediate attention.” His cause of death was not immediately shared.
“Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st, surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs,” reads a message posted to Buffett’s official Instagram account. “He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”
In May, Buffett was hospitalized for an undisclosed reason, forcing him to cancel a performance. “Growing old is not for sissies, I promise you,” Buffett said in a statement at the time.
He was also forced to suspend tour dates in September 2022 for undisclosed health issues that led to another hospitalization.
In addition to “Margaritaville,” which was released in 1977 and was so iconic it spawned a chain of eateries, Buffett’s best-known songs include “‘Come Monday,” “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” “Son of a Son of a Sailor” and “Cheeseburger In Paradise.”
Born on Dec. 25, 1946, in Pascagoula, Mississippi, Buffett began his music career as a country singer in Nashville in the 1960s. He recorded a solo album, “Down to Earth,” in that style in 1970. He also performed on the street and in other public places for money, known as busking, in Nashville, New Orleans, and other cities.
During a busking trip to Key West, he decided to move there, and that’s where he started to develop his beach-bum lifestyle, which would become the theme of his later hits, and begin to incorporate other styles of music into his work, such as pop, rock, and calypso.
After being signed to ABC Records, Buffett began recording more albums. It was his seventh album in 1977 — Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes — on which “Margaritaville” was recorded. Going into the 1980s, Buffett found that touring was very profitable for him, and he became known as quite the showman.
His fans called themselves “Parrotheads,” and Buffett would go on to branch out the “Margaritaville” name to retail and the restaurant chain, The Margaritaville Cafe. But it wouldn’t be until 2004, with his “License to Chill” album, that Buffett topped the pop charts for the first time in his career.
While continuing to record albums through 2020, Buffett also started a second restaurant chain, Cheeseburger in Paradise, though it’s no longer operating, he has written bestselling books. Buffett would become one of the world’s richest musicians, with a reported $1 billion net worth.