Jimmy Buffet's name and music is synonymous with a certain “island escapism” style of living. It seems strange that he was born on Christmas Day and grew up in the Deep South of Alabama and Mississippi. Buffet and his Coral Reefer Band have inspired legions of devoted fans -- deemed Parrotheads -- around the world.
Two of Buffet's best-known songs have even spun off into restaurants. “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and “Margaritaville” each have chains named after them. Buffet is a co-owner of Margaritaville Cafe, with the Cheeseburger in Paradise string being licensed and operated by the owners of Outback Steakhouse.
Nashville was where Buffet first honed his musical chops. In the late '60s, he tried his hand at country music, eventually settling into a more folk-rock sound for his 1970 debut, Down to Earth. He was often found busking on the streets of New Orleans until country artist Jerry Jeff Walker took him down to Key West for a busking adventure that would change his life.
Buffet relocated to Key West and began occupying the laid-back beach persona that he would become known for. The tropical vibe also found its way into his music for a sound sometimes tagged as “gulf and western.” Titles like A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean and Havana Daydreamin' filled his discography.
By some accounts, his record label saw Buffet as the successor to Jim Croce's throne after Croce passed away suddenly in 1973. Eventually, 1977's Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes rolled around with its breakthrough hit “Margaritaville” and everything changed for Buffet.
Making bank off of his popular tours and merchandise, Buffet opened the first Margaritaville Cafe in 1985 in Key West.
A few years later, Buffet would find his way into the literary world as he published Tales from Margaritaville in 1989. That book, along with Where is Joe Merchant? and A Pirate Looks at Fifty combined to give him three New York Times best-sellers.
Buffet is one of seven authors who have made both the fiction and non-fiction lists. He keeps company there with the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Dr. Seuss. He has since authored two children's books and two novels, and is currently working on his follow-up to Pirate.
All the while, he has never forsaken his musical career, releasing specialty albums, performing at the Clinton White House, and collaborating on a Herman Wouk musical and an Alan Jackson duet. His 2004 License to Chill even topped the pop charts – a first in his career. He followed that up in 2006 with Take the Weather with You.
Buffet released his 28th record in 2009, Buffet Hotel and continues to tour at a more relaxed pace. He's widely known for his Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday show schedule, going so far as to title his 1999 live album Buffet Live — Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays.
Tickets to the Jimmy Buffett Concert Tour
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