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National Review
National Review
2 Sep 2023
Caroline Downey

NextImg:Iconic ‘Margaritaville’ Singer Jimmy Buffett Dies at 76

Jimmy Buffett, the singer-songwriter famous for tropical soft rock hits like “Margaritaville,” passed away Friday night at 76 years old.

“Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs,” a statement on his website said. “He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”

The cause of his death has not been publicly shared.

In addition to creating music based on boozy island escapes, Buffett also stewarded a sprawling business empire, including a restaurant chain, resorts, a clothing brand, a radio station, and other novelty items inspired by the lifestyle. Buffett coined his music niche “drunken Caribbean rock n’ roll,” which blended elements of both coastal and country.

His working class anthem “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” a duet with country singer Alan Jackson, earned him a Grammy nomination. Buffet’s cover of Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin” was also nominated for the award.

While Buffett’s often whimsical lyrics featured pirates, sailors, and cheeseburgers in paradise, they also sometimes leaned into romance and reflection, as with “Come Monday.” Buffett wrote the sweet ballad while missing his then-girlfriend, now his wife, on a long touring and recording stretch in the 1970s. He is survived by her and his three children.

“Come Monday, it’ll all be alright. Come Monday, I’ll be holding you tight. I spent four lonely days in brown L.A haze. And I just want you back by my side,” the lyrics read.

Buffett received his musical education at Auburn University in Alabama and then the University of Southern Mississippi. After breaking into the music scene in New Orleans, he relocated to Nashville, where he tried to become a singer. However, his greatest career growth, according to his website, happened in Key West, Florida, where much of his creative vision was sparked. He went on to produce over two-dozen albums, alongside the Coral Reefer Band, filled with vignettes of sandy beaches, cocktail-filled maritime travels, and the go-slow mentality.

Buffett still had his adventurism and beach-bum attitude as recent as 2017, when in an interview with Men’s Journal he declared his bucket list items: “I have four things: Learn to hang ten. Go to space. Go to Pitcairn Island, where my Buffett ancestors are from. And go to Antartica.”