Singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, well-known for his song “Margaritaville” and empire of restaurants, died Monday night. He was 76 years old.
A statement appeared on Buffett’s official website and social media, which said: “Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1 surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs. He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”
The Associated Press reported that it is currently unknown where Buffett died, or what the specific cause of death was. He had suffered an illness in May that forced him to cancel concerts. He had acknowledged on social media that he had been hospitalized, but there were no details provided.
The song “Margaritaville” was released on February 14, 1977, and quickly became an anthem for a laid-back lifestyle. The report noted the song was geared to those who were wasting their life away with low-key fun and escapism.
The song — from the album “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” — spent a staggering 22 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at number eight. And the song subsequently made it into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016 for its cultural and historic significance. It also became a karaoke staple and provided Key West, Florida with a brand of music that is known all over the world.
“There was no such place as Margaritaville,” Buffett said during an interview with 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 and then come back and spend time by the beach.”
Spin magazine wrote in 2021: “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. The tourists come and go, one group indistinguishable from the other. Waves crest and break whether somebody is there to witness it or not. Everything that means anything has already happened and you’re not even sure when.”
The song inspired a chain of restaurants and resorts, converting Buffett’s innocent desire for the small things of island life into a multi-million-dollar brand. Buffett was listed as the thirteenth richest celebrity by Forbes in 2016, with a net worth of $550 million.
Music critics have expressed their dislike for Buffett’s music over the years, but that has not stopped Buffett from amassing an immense fanbase, known as “Parrotheads.”
“It’s pure escapism is all it is,” he said to the Republic. “I’m not the first one to do it, nor shall I probably be the last. But I think it’s really a part of the human condition that you’ve got to have some fun. You’ve got to get away from whatever you do to make a living or other parts of life that stress you out. I try to make it at least 50/50 fun to work and so far it’s worked out.”
Buffett is survived by his wife, son, and two daughters.
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