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Jimmy Buffett, the singer of ‘Margaritaville,’ has died at the age of 76.

Jimmy Buffett

Jimmy Buffett, the singer-songwriter who popularized beach bum soft rock with the carefree Caribbean-flavored song “Margaritaville” and turned it into a billion-dollar empire of restaurants, resorts, and frozen concoctions, has died. He was 76.

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

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The statement made no mention of where Buffett died or the cause of death. Jimmy Buffett had to cancel shows in May due to illness, and he admitted in social media posts that he had been hospitalized but provided no details.

“Margaritaville,” which was released on February 14, 1977, immediately became a state of mind for those “wastin’ away,” an excuse for a life of low-key enjoyment and escapism for those “growing older, but not up.”

The song is a leisurely portrayal of a loafer on his front porch, watching tourists sunbathe while a pot of shrimp boils. The singer has a fresh tattoo, a possible hangover, and feelings for a lost love. A salt shaker has been misplaced somewhere.

“What seems like a simple ditty about getting blotto and mending a broken heart turns out to be a profound meditation on the often painful inertia of beach dwelling,” Spin magazine wrote in 2021. “The tourists come and go, indistinguishable from one another.” Whether or not anyone is around to witness it, waves crest and break. Everything that might signify anything has already happened, and you have no idea when.”

The song “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” from the album “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” spent 22 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 list and peaked at No. 8. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016 for its cultural and historic significance, became a karaoke standard, and helped market Key West, Florida, as a distinct musical sound and a world-renowned resort.

“There was no such place as Margaritaville,” Buffett explained to the Arizona Republic in 2021. “It was a made-up place in my mind, basically made up about my experiences in Key West and having to leave Key West and go on the road to work, then come back and spend time by the beach.”

Jimmy Buffett’s alleged desire for the simplicity of island life became a multimillion-dollar brand as the song spawned restaurants and resorts. With a net worth of $1 billion, he ranks 18th on Forbes’ list of the Richest Celebrities of All Time.

President Joe Biden expressed sympathy to Buffett’s family.

“Jill and I send our love to his wife of 46 years, Jane; their children, Savannah, Sarah, and Cameron; their grandchildren; and the millions of fans who will continue to love him even as his ship now sails for new shores,” Biden said in a statement. “Over the years, we had the privilege of meeting and getting to know Jimmy, and he was in life as he was on stage – full of goodwill and joy, using his gift to bring people together.”

Buffett’s “music brought happiness to millions of people,” remarked former President Bill Clinton on X, formerly Twitter. I’ll be eternally grateful for his compassion, generosity, and outstanding performances over the years.”

Buffett’s library, which included songs like “Fins,” “Come Monday,” and “Cheeseburgers in Paradise,” was never well received by music critics. His millions of supporters, known as “Parrotheads,” showed up to his shows wearing plastic parrots, cheeseburgers, sharks, and flamingos on their heads, leis around their necks, and flamboyant Hawaiian shirts.
“It’s pure escapism, that’s all it is,” he told the Republic. “I’m not the first to do it, and I won’t be the last.” But I believe that having pleasure is a necessary component of the human existence. You must get away from whatever you do for a living or other aspects of your life that stress you out. I strive to make work at least 50/50 enjoyable, and thus far that has worked.”

His unique Gulf Coast blend of country, pop, folk, and rock used instrumentation and tonalities more often associated with the Caribbean, such as steel drums. The music was a mash-up of steelpans, trombones, and pedal steel guitar. Buffett’s amazing ear for hooks and light rhythms was frequently overshadowed by his lyrics about fish tacos and sunsets.

In a review of Buffett’s 2020 album “Life on the Flip Side,” Rolling Stone gave reluctant praise. “He continues mapping out his surfy, sandy corner of pop music utopia with the chill, friendly warmth of a multi-millionaire you wouldn’t mind sharing a tropically-themed 3 p.m. IPA with, especially if his gold card was on the bar when the last round came.”

On Saturday, tributes arrived from all walks of life, from Hollywood star Miles Teller, who posted images of himself with Buffett, to former Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, who said on X, previously Twitter, that Buffett “lived life to the fullest and the world will miss him.” The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson penned, “Love and Mercy, Jimmy Buffett.”

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Written by Editorial Staff

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