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Jimmy Buffett


Jimmy Buffett’s “Gulf & Western” music has surfed the soundwaves with island escapism since 1973.

Jimmy Buffett’s “Gulf & Western” music has surfed the soundwaves with island escapism since 1973. Born into a long line of sailors, it was only natural that Buffett would be drawn to nautical themes, Caribbean rhythms and instrumentation, and the carefree life of a tropical troubadour. Introduced to Key West in the early 1970s by friend and Texas music icon Jerry Jeff Walker, Buffett moved to the Keys and began writing sunny songs that made everyone want to join him. His lyrics reflected his life – as a world traveler, pilot, and sailor, he wrote about his plane being shot at by Jamaican police (“Jamaica Mistaica”), getting lost in the Sahara Desert (“Buffet Hotel”), and smugglers he had known around the Florida Gulf Coast (“A Pirate Looks at 40”). Buffett’s tropical folk-rock sound is best exemplified by the songs he dubbed “The Big 8,” which included hits such as “Why Don’t We Get Drunk,” “Come Monday,” “Margaritaville,” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”

In 1975, Buffett formed the Coral Reefer Band, which would back him for his entire career. In 1985, then-band member Timothy Schmidt is credited with coining the nickname “Parrothead” for Buffett’s devoted fans, both as an homage to the “Deadhead” moniker used for Grateful Dead fans and a reference to the brightly-colored Hawaiian-style beach attire of Buffett’s audiences. The same year, Buffett began to grow his Parrothead lifestyle empire, which eventually included restaurant chains, bars, hotels, casinos, retirement communities, beverages, home goods, apparel, accessories, books, and even a musical.

The 2000s brought Buffett much acclaim. “Margaritaville” was included in the “Songs of the Century,” a list of 365 songs of historical significance selected by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. He won the Country Music Association Awards’ Vocal Event of the Year for his 2003 duet with Alan Jackson, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” and in 2010, he was named the tenth biggest touring artist of the decade, with 4.5 million ticket sales over the previous 10 years.

Buffett’s influence can be heard in the mischievous humor and tropical vibes of hits from some of today’s country greats, including Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Zac Brown, Luke Bryan, and Dierks Bentley.

Selected Discography

“Why Don’t We Get Drunk,” A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean (1973) • “A Pirate Looks at 40,” A1A • “Come Monday,” Living and Dying in ¾ Time (1974) • “Margaritaville,” Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes (1977) • “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” Son of a Son of a Sailor (1978) • “Fins,” Volcano (1979) •“It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” Alan Jackson Greatest Hits Volume II (2003) • “Hey, Good Lookin’,” License to Chill (2004)


Mary J. Blige