Jimmy Buffett, the singer-songwriter who popularized Beach Bum soft rock with his escapist Caribbean-inspired song “Margaritaville” and turned the laid-back celebration into a billion-dollar restaurant, has died , resorts and a frozen drink empire. He is 76 years old.

“Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1 surrounded by family, friends, music and dogs,” Buffett Official Website social media pages said late Friday. “His life was like a song, and he will be missed by many until his last breath.”

The statement did not disclose or give a cause of Buffett’s death. The illness forced him to reschedule a May concert, and Buffett acknowledged in a social media post that he was hospitalized, but gave no specifics.

Released on February 14, 1977, “Margaritaville” quickly took on a life of its own, becoming a state of mind for those “killing the time” as low-key fun and escapism for those “growing up” excuses for life. Older, but not yet grown up. “

The song depicts a loafer lounging on his front porch, watching tourists sunbathe while a pot of shrimp starts to boil. The singer has a new tattoo, may be hungover and regrets a lost love. There’s a misplaced salt shaker somewhere.

“This deceptively simple ditty about stains and mending broken hearts is actually a poignant meditation on the often painful inertia of beach homes,” wrote Spin magazine in 2021. Tourists come and go, crowds People are no different from other people. other. Whether there are witnesses or not, waves will rise or break. Everything means that anything has happened, and you’re not even sure when. “

The song from the album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes spent 22 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 8. Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016 for its cultural and historical significance, the song became a karaoke standard and helped make Key West, Florida, a unique sound of music and a world-renowned destination.

“A place like Margaritaville doesn’t exist,” Buffett told the Arizona Republic in 2021. “It’s a figment of my mind, basically made up of my experiences in Key West and having to get out of Key West and hit the road. Go to work and come back to spend time at the beach. “

The song quickly inspired restaurants and resorts, Buffett is said to be eager to turn the simplicity of island life into a multimillion-dollar brand. With a net worth of $1 billion, he ranks No. 18 on Forbes’ list of the richest celebrities of all time.

Music critics have never been kind to Buffett or his work, including beachside snack bar songs like “Fins,” “Come Monday” and “Cheeseburgers in Paradise.” But his legions of fans, known as “parrot heads,” often turn up at his concerts with toy parrots, cheeseburgers, sharks and flamingos on their heads, wreaths around their necks and fancy Hawaiian shirts .

“It’s pure escapism,” he told The Republic. “I’m not the first person to do this, and I probably won’t be the last. But I think it’s really part of the human condition that you have to have some fun. You have to get away from everything you do for a living or anything else in your life. The part that stresses you out. I try to make work at least 50/50 fun, and it’s worked out so far.”

His unique mix of Gulf Coast country, pop, folk, and rock adds instruments and tones more commonly found in the Caribbean, such as steel drums. This is a hybrid of steelpan, trombone and pedal steel guitar. Buffett’s incredible ear for hooks and light grooves is often overshadowed by his lyrics about fish tacos and sunsets.

“Rolling Stone” magazine gave reluctant support when reviewing Buffett’s 2020 album “Life on the Flip Side.” “He continues to paint the choppy, sandy corners of his pop utopia with the cool, friendly enthusiasm of a multimillionaire, and you wouldn’t mind sharing a tropical-themed 3pm IPA with him, especially when his gold card is on the bar time. The last round is here.”

Condolences were expressed Saturday, from Hollywood star Miles Teller, who posted a photo of himself with Buffett, to former U.S. Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, The latter wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that Buffett “lives life to the fullest and is passionate about the world.” will miss him. ’ The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson wrote: “Love and kindness, Jimmy Buffett. “

The ongoing evolution of the Buffett brand began in 1985 with the opening of a series of Margaritaville-themed stores and restaurants in Key West, followed by the opening of the first Margaritaville Café nearby in 1987. Over the next two decades, several more opened in Florida, New Orleans, and California.

The brand has since expanded into dozens of categories, including resorts, men’s and women’s apparel and footwear, radio stations, beer brands, iced tea, tequila and rum, home decor, food such as salad dressings, margaritas Crispy Pimento Cheese and Shrimp Chips with Margaritaville Cantina-Style Medium Thick Salsa, Margaritaville at Sea cruise lines and restaurants including Margaritaville Restaurant, JWB Prime Steak and Seafood, 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill and LandShark Bar & Grill.

There’s also the Broadway jukebox musical Escape from Margaritaville, a romantic comedy in which a singer-bartender named Sully falls for the more enterprising Rachel, who Was on vacation with friends and hanging out at the Margaritaville Hotel. The bar where Sully works.

James William Buffett was born on Christmas Day 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and grew up in the port town of Mobile, Alabama. A graduate of Southern Mississippi University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, he went from performing on the streets of New Orleans to performing at the Bourbon Street Club six nights a week.

He released his first record, Down To Earth, in 1970, and has since released seven on an annual basis, including 1974’s The song “Come Monday” peaked on the charts in 2010. 30. Then there was “Margaritaville.”

He has performed on more than 50 studio and live albums, often accompanied by his Coral Reefer Band, and tours frequently. He has been nominated for two Grammy Awards, two Academy of Country Music Awards and one Country Music Association Award.

Buffett was actually in Austin, Texas when the idea for “Margaritaville” struck. He and a friend stopped for lunch at a Mexican restaurant, and she dropped him off at the airport for his flight to Key West, so they started drinking margaritas.

“I came up with this idea, like Margaritaville,” Buffett told The Republic. “She kind of laughed about it and put me on the plane. I started working on it.”

He wrote something on the plane and finished it while driving along the archipelago. “There was an accident on the bridge,” he said. “We stopped for about an hour, so I finished the song on the Seven Mile Bridge, which I thought was fitting.”

Buffett is also the author of several books, including Where’s Joe Merchant? and Pirates Watching Fifty, and added film to his resume as co-producer and co-star in the adaptation of Carl Schiasson’s novel Hoot.

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

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Associated Press entertainment writer Andrew Dalton is from Los Angeles.

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