Jimmy Buffett, the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter known for his hit "Margaritaville" and his extensive business ventures, has died at the age of 76. His death was confirmed in a statement on his website, although the cause of death and the location were not specified. Buffett had to change the dates of several shows, informing his fans that he had been recently hospitalized without elaborating.
Buffett was born in Pascagoula Mississippi on the 25th of December, 1946, and relocated to Mobile, Alabama in his childhood years.His father's travels with the Army Corps of Engineers to places like India and Africa, as well as his grandfather's career as a steamship captain, instilled in him a sense of wanderlust and adventure. Despite his upbringing in a parochial school and as an altar boy, Buffett's love for the guitar ultimately led him away from the life his parents had envisioned for him.
While in college, Buffett formed his first band and performed extensively in New Orleans. After his graduation, he took on two occupations: reporting for Billboard magazine in Nashville while also being a singer-songwriter. Later on, his first record, "Down to Earth", was put out in 1970. His music eventually embraced the beach-friendly style beloved by his fans today, influenced in part by a trip he took to Key West, Florida, in 1971.
In 1977, Buffett achieved worldwide recognition thanks to his smasher of a song, "Margaritaville." The song, which peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard charts, became an instant classic and formed the basis for his expansive business empire. He opened Margaritaville Cafe in Key West in 1987, started the national restaurant chain Cheeseburger in Paradise, and developed a hotel chain. Buffett also licensed Margaritaville tequila, T-shirts, footwear, and food products, becoming a millionaire in the process.
Although "Margaritaville" is his most famous song, Buffett's Grammy nominations came from collaborations with other artists. His collaboration with country singer Alan Jackson on the 2003 hit "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" gave him a No. 1 position on the country charts and the Country Music Association Award for Vocal Event of the Year. Additionally, the song earned Buffett his debut nomination for a Grammy in the category for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals. He received another nomination the following year for the same award with his song "Hey Good Lookin'," featuring Jackson and George Strait.
In addition to his music career, Buffett also wrote music for movies such as "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and "Urban Cowboy" and made appearances on film and television, often as himself. He was also a successful author, with three books reaching No. 1 on The New York Times' best-sellers list.
His songs have become the basis for a jukebox musical called "Escape to Margaritaville," which premiered on Broadway in 2018. The musical revolves around the connection between a bartender and singer and a tourist. Buffett would like people to come away with nothing more than "A smile on their face."
Jimmy Buffett's death marks the end of an era for his devoted fans, who were drawn to his carefree, beach-inspired music. His legacy as a creative luminary and innovator will remain for years to come.