A Dream That Will Live Forever in Song
Florida can never put a value on what Jimmy Buffett meant to the state. Not just from an economic perspective, but for the way we perceive our state and the way some 130 million people see Florida as they head here each year.
Florida is more than a vacation. A week in New York, Los Angeles or Las Vegas is a vacation.
Florida is an escape. It is where many people go to get away from the pressures of life. The beachy carefree picture in our minds that Jimmy created may never be perfectly duplicated, but always anticipated.
This is where Jimmy’s genius came in. He was a magician, not a singer-songwriter. He could paint beautiful colorful pictures in our mind. No oil paints, no canvas just words from Jimmy Buffet ballads about places we wanted to go and maybe even never return from.
Jimmy did that for Florida and, specifically, Key West. He said about his music, “It’s pure escapism is all it is…I’m not the first one to do it, nor shall I probably be the last.” The first part of his statement is exactly accurate. The second part…. we highly doubt there will ever be another balladeer/artist/magician like Jimmy Buffett as he suggested.
Things We Know About Jimmy Buffet
We are not going to tell you anything you don’t already know. Jimmy was a billionaire magnate in the entertainment and hospitality industry. He has sold almost 21 million albums. He has restaurants and resorts all over the world.
He has performed in almost 2000 concerts. That puts him a few short of the top 20 touring bands of all time. His music is performed in Florida bars and restaurants thousands of times a day. Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Sirius XM channel plays 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
All of these things, along with his many songs, we know. There are hundreds of thousands of “Parrotheads” around the world who know all of these things.
How about the things we didn’t know about Jimmy?
Things You Didn’t Know About Jimmy Buffet – But Should Have
Many of the things we discovered are facts that would have been fun to know years ago. Some are sad, some are funny and some just downright comical. Jimmy Buffet wasn’t a complicated person and his life was much like some of his songs. He was an avid sailor, pilot, bar owner and lover of remote islands.
All those things hid some of these facts about the life of James William Buffet.
The early years of perseverance…
- Did you know Jimmy flunked out of Auburn University in his first year? If he hadn’t, we may never have seen him. He completed a degree at another college.
- Jimmy played for drinks at the little Chart Room (which we love) in Key West. He met his wife Jane there.
- Jimmy opened a T-shirt shop in Gulf Shores, Alabama in 1984. It quickly failed. His perseverance led to another T-shirt shop in Key West in 1985. By 1987, the Margaritaville brand was established on Duval Street.
- Bet you haven’t heard of one of Jimy’s early releases called “White Sport Coat and Pink Crustaceans” – he persevered.
- In 1975, Jimmy opened up for The Eagles. He considered that one of his big “breaks”.
The Middle years of growth ….
- Jimmy’s album “Songs You Know By Heart” has sold over 7 million and continues to sell today. Classic Buffet songs are ageless.
- Jimmy’s song “Math Suks” was condemned by the National Association of Math Teachers. He had a bit of an irreverent side.
- Jimmy Buffet’s music kept being described by many monikers – “escapism rock”, “tropical rock”, “folk rock”, “island escapism sound”, “pop rock” and more. Jimmy called his music -“drunken Caribbean rock ‘n’ roll”. Which one is most accurate?
- Jimmy had 3 books on the New York Times Best Seller List – one of the only authors who ranked for both fiction and non-fiction.
Most recent years of fun…
Despite Jimmy being worth more than a billion dollars, he loved performing. He made it clear that making other people happy was his biggest accomplishment. His last formal concert was in San Diego on May 6, 2023. But that was NOT the last time he performed, read on…
- The Save the Manatee Club was founded in 1981 by Jimmy and Florida Governor Bob Graham.
- Jimmy’s support of numerous charities is legendary and he has been a major contributor to many endangered species organizations. He has contributed millions to many causes over the years. Most had some basis for Florida improvement, preservation and research.
- Jimmy had a big investment in Uncle “Warren’s” company. He was friends with Warren Buffet and invested a lot in the very successful Berkshire Hathaway Company.
- Jimmy’s last two public appearances were not planned. He made surprise showings at two locations where his Coral Reefer Band was playing. Did he foresee they would be playing without him in the near future? His last performance was July 2, 2023.
- On Sunday, September 3, 2023, there were hundreds of fans that had an impromptu remembrance in the streets of Key West from Sloppy Joe’s to Margaritaville. The last time the streets were closed for Jimmy was in 2011 when he and his band did a concert there.
One last thing about Jimmy Buffet…
Since his death we have seen literally hundreds of comments about Jimmy’s life and what he meant to other recording artists, actors, comedians and news reporters. That would be expected, but what wasn’t expected was the number of comments that had one theme… he was truly a nice guy.
I think he would like that as he eats his cheeseburger in eternal paradise and sips his margarita as his sailboat heads into the sunset.