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Jimmy Buffett, ‘Margaritaville’ Singer Who Turned Island Escapism Into an Empire, Dead at 76

Jimmy Buffett, the singer-songwriter known for his enduring anthem “Margaritaville” and businessman who transformed the 1977 song into an empire that encompassed restaurants, resorts, and more, has died at the age of 76. 

A statement released on his website and social media late Friday, read, “Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st 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.”

No cause of death was disclosed.

Born on Dec. 25, 1946, in Pascagoula, Mississippi, Buffett went on to chase a career as a country artist in Nashville where he recorded his first album, 1970’s Down to Earth while working as a correspondent for Billboard.

It wouldn’t be until he left a failed marriage in Tennessee for the Key West, Florida in the spring of 1972 that he would find his muse to forge his tropical rock sound combining folk, rock, pop, and calypso. His breakthrough year arrived in 1977 with Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, which went platinum as ”Margaritaville” went gold. Son of a Son of a Sailor followed in 1978, which included one of his most successful songs, the playful favorite “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” He would go on to sell more than 20 million albums, while tracks such as “Come Monday,” and “Havana Daydreamin’ propelled his success even further.

Buffett’s performing career spanned five decades, during which he released more than 30 records, 17 of which went platinum or RIAA-certified gold. Named “rock’s romantic poet-pirate” by Rolling Stone for his diehard fanbase called Parrot Heads, Buffett was a perennial road warrior, performing barefoot with his Coral Reefer Band at amphitheaters across the country.

A sharp businessman, Buffett parlayed his musical persona into Margaritaville Holdings in 1985 which grew to include a chain of restaurants, resorts, apparel, tequila and margarita mix, and retirement communities. In September 2023, Forbes estimated his net worth at 1 billion dollars.


In September 2022, Buffett postponed the remainder of his Life on the Flipside tour dates after a “brief hospitalization” for undisclosed health issues. 

During an interview with Rolling Stone in 2020, Buffett looked back at his long career and reflected on the lessons learned on his path from frustrated songwriter to king of the Parrot Heads and business mogul. “When you’ve had a couple of close calls — an airplane crash, a stage dive — you think you’re probably living on borrowed time. So I kind of do choose to live like it’s my last day,” he said. “Everybody goes at some point.”

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