Jimmy Buffett, ‘Margaritaville’ singer, dies at 76

Jimmy Buffett, a troubadour whose songs raised to an art form a life that celebrated laidback loafing and lazy summer days on the beach, died Friday.

He was 76.

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

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The singer had been hospitalized in May and when he was released he thanked fans for their well wishes though did not say why he had been admitted.

No cause of death was given.

Buffett’s songs of a lazy beach life made for a popular playlist for any summer gathering. His live shows would draw thousands of “Parrotheads” to concert venues to cheer, singalong and put their hands on their head making a fin to move through the crowds like a shark.

Buffett would take his songs of pirates, loafers, fishermen and mariners, and spin their popularity into a business that saw the singer born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and raised in South Alabama become a multi-millionaire.

Buffett built on the island theme of his songs when he launched restaurants, hotels and resorts sporting the “Margaritaville” brand. Later came appeal, tea, beer, tequila rum and other branded items. The businesses that grew from his vision of the beach life landed him at No. 13 in Forbes’ America’s Richest Celebrities in 2016 with a net worth of $550 million.

By the time of his death, Buffett had an estimated net worth of $1 billion, including $570 million from touring and recording, a music catalog valued around $50 million and $140 million in planes, homes and shares in Berkshire Hathaway, according to The Wall Street Journal.

He once wrote a song about buying Berkshire Hathaway stock, “when it was cheap,” and was friends with the company’s chairman and CEO Warren Buffett, the Journal reported.

“Margaritaville,” the breakthrough hit that inspired the hotels and resorts, was released in 1977.

“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, 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.”

Buffett was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006. He won two Country Music Association awards during his career and was twice nominated for Grammy Awards.

While music critics were not effusive in their praise of his work, Parrotheads kept the singer touring as they filled venues to hear favorites such as “Fins,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” and “Come Monday.”

“It’s pure escapism is all it is,” Buffett told the Arizona 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, who was born on Christmas day 1946, started his career in New Orleans playing six nights a week at Bourbon Street clubs, according to the Associated Press.

He became an author later in life, writing numerous books including “Where Is Joe Merchant?” and “A Pirate Looks At Fifty.”

Buffett is survived by his wife, Jane; daughters, Savannah and Sarah; and son, Cameron.