Southern-Born Music Icon Jimmy Buffett Has Died

“He lived his life like a song till the very last breath.”

<p>Erika Goldring/Contributor/Getty Images</p>

Erika Goldring/Contributor/Getty Images

Beloved singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett died Friday night at the age of 76. Per a statement from the singer’s website and posted on his social media, “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 til the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”

The “Margaritaville” singer had to cancel several shows earlier this year due to a few hospitalizations for undisclosed health complications. It has now been disclosed by his team that Buffett had quietly battled Merkel Cell Skin Cancer for the last four years.

Buffett was born on Christmas Day 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi, but grew up in Mobile, Alabama. His grandfather, James Delaney Buffett, made his living as a captain on a steamship and his father was in the Army Corps of Engineers, traveling to India and Africa before settling his family in the Alabama port city. Buffett grew up on the Gulf, listening to the stories of his grandfather that likely laid the foundation to inspire many of his greatest hits that often had nautical themes.

When Buffett left Mobile for college, he stayed in the South. He first attended Auburn University but then graduated from Southern Mississippi University. Per the biography on his website, a fraternity brother taught him to play guitar to “garner attention from girls,” but ultimately it changed the trajectory of his life. From college Buffett went to busk the streets in New Orleans before moving to Nashville for a job with Billboard Magazine and to try to break into the world of country music. He released his first record, “Down to Earth” in 1970 but then he took a trip to Key West in 1971 where he truly found his musical voice. Per his website, this is where he began “telling the stories of the wanderers, the adventurers, and the forlorn.”

In 1974, “Come Monday” off his fourth studio album made the Billboard charts, peaking at number 30, and that opened the doors for Buffett to tour the country, playing some of the most legendary music venues like Los Angeles’s The Troubadour. But then, in 1977, he released “Margaritaville,” and this laid-back anthem not only firmly established his music career, it later inspired the launch of a business empire of restaurants, resorts, a radio station, clothing, and more.

Buffett went on to create 27 studio albums, countless hit songs, and he was nominated for two Grammy Awards. He was constantly on tour and his shows created their own world for his fans, dubbed “Parrotheads.” Buffett also wrote several New York Times bestselling books, made numerous film and television appearances and his life and music even inspired the Broadway show, Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville, which debuted in 2017.

He also used his platform to help, creating the nonprofit Save the Manatee Club in 1981.  Per a message on Buffett's website, "In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Jimmy Buffett’s Foundation Singing for Change, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute or MD Anderson Cancer Center."

Buffett is survived by his wife, Jane (Slagsvol) Buffett, his daughters Savannah Jane (Joshua) and Sarah Delaney, his son Cameron Marley (Lara), his grandson Marley Ray and his dogs Lola, Kingston, Pepper, Rosie, Ajax and Kody. Also survived by his sister, Laurie Buffett McGuane (Tom), their children Heather Hume, Anne Buffett McGuane, Maggie McGuane and Thomas McGuane IV; his sister, Lucy Buffett and daughters Mara Delaney Buffett O’Dwyer and Melanie Leigh Buffett; and many more wonderful cousins, nieces and nephews.

Our thoughts are with all of them as well as all of the Parrotheads. Our fins are up in tribute.

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