HITS Daily Double


Jimmy Buffett, whose country- and Caribbean-spiced pop musical palette was filled with tales of sea adventures, beach bums and sots, died Friday (9/1). He was 76.

His death was announced on his website: “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 till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.” No cause was given.

Buffett cracked the Top 10 only once—with “Margaritaville” in 1977—but that one song’s milieu of boozing on the beach to deal with life’s curveballs would infuse his work for decades and eventually blossom into a lifestyle brand. Of course, there were plenty of songs about tossing back a few cold ones in celebration as well; he hit the Top 20 in 2003 with “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere," a duet with Alan Jackson.

He scored 20 Top 40 albums, including his lone chart-topper, License to Chill (2004). His 1985 hits collection, Songs You Know by Heart, was certified septuple platinum. The 1992 boxed set Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads is quadruple platinum.

Buffett’s appeal as a live performer was consistently strong. He took his Coral Reefer Band on countless summer tours that were as much a party for his followers, the Hawaiian-shirt-wearing Parrotheads, as a performance. In 2022 Pollstar reported that Buffett had grossed $575m over the previous 40 years of touring and sold 13.3m tickets. According to Forbes, his net worth reached $1b, making him one of the world's wealthiest musicians.

Elton John wrote on Instagram, “Jimmy Buffett was a unique and treasured entertainer. His fans adored him and he never let them down.”

Born on Christmas Day, 1946, he grew up in Mobile, Alabama, where his grandfather taught him to sail. After college in Mississippi, he moved to Nashville. He started recording in 1970 and toured with Jerry Jeff Walker.

After signing with ABC/Dunhill and setting up shop in Key West, he appeared on the country album charts with 1973's A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean.

His first pop Top 30 came in 1974 with "Come Monday" from his fourth studio album, Living and Dying in ¾ Time. It led to Buffett's touring the country for the first time, playing folk venues.

"Margaritaville" would rule the airwaves three years later, bringing him a large national audience and a string of hit albums. Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, which included “Margaritaville,” peaked at #12. 1978’s Son of a Son of a Sailor went to #10. Volcano hit #14 in 1979.

Late in the '80s, Buffett started using Margaritaville for branding and marketing, opening the first Margaritaville store in 1985 and Margaritaville Café in 1987. He topped the New York Times bestsellers list with 1989’s short story collection, Tales From Margaritaville.

He created the Margaritaville label, distributed first by MCA and then Island, reaching the Top 10 with four of the five studio albums he released in the 1990s.

The jukebox musical Escape to Margaritaville opened on Broadway in 2018 and went on a national tour a year later. A Margaritaville Resort opened in Times Square in 2021.

The Library of Congress put “Margaritaville” in the National Recording Registry in April.

Buffett’s biggest recent singles were country collaborations: a version of Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin’,” with Jackson, Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith and George Strait hit #8 on the country chart in 2004, and “Knee Deep” with the Zac Brown Band topped the country singles chart in 2011.