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Yacht Rock Legend Jimmy Buffett Passes Away

2 September 2023 | 9:49 pm | Stephen Green

Yacht rock legend Jimmy Buffett has passed away "surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs".

Jimmy Buffett

Jimmy Buffett (Source: Supplied)

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Maragaritaville hitmaker Jimmy Buffett passed away on Friday as announced on his website. A cause or place of death was not revealed, but the legendary musician had postponed concerts in May after being hospitalised for non-specified health issues.

The singer songwriter was a little-known artist until penning the classic 1977 hit Margaritaville which became an anthem for those “wastin’ away” and looking for an excuse for a low-key life. One of the key songs in the yacht rock movement, the song became a totem for a state of mind.

"There was no such place as Margaritaville," Buffett told the Arizona Republic in 2021. "It was a made-up place in my mind, basically made up about my experiences in Key West and having to leave Key West and go on the road to work and then come back and spend time by the beach."

Buffett took the Margaritaville brand global with restaurants, books and even a cruise line. Who wouldn’t want to go on a cruise with Margaritaville?

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His investments made him one of the world’s richest musicians with an estimated net worth of $1 billion.

Buffett started his music career as a country artist in 1970 with the album Down To Earth. Largely busking at that time, the record did not make an impact, but fellow country artist Jerry Jeff Walker took him to Key West on a busking tour and his easygoing “beach bum” persona was born. Buffet combined elements of country, rock, calypso and pop to create his trademark tropical sound.

He labeled his music as ‘drunken Caribbean rock 'n' roll’, creating a movement that peaked with the US top ten Margaritaville in 1977. Here in Australia, be peaked earlier with his biggest chart hit 1974’s Come Monday.

A prolific artist, Buffett release 29 studio albums right up until 2020, but it was his other business ventures that proved most profitable. In 1993 he started his own record label. In 2006 he started his own beer company. In 2013 he opened Margaritaville Casino. In 2012 he released the Margaritaville online game. In 2021 he launched the Margaritaville retirement village. In 2018 Buffet launched the Coral Reefer marijuana brand.

Buffett had a serious incident here in Australia at an Australia Day show at the Hordern Pavillion in 2011 when he fell off the stage after an encore. A concert-goer said, "He just went over to the edge of the stage, like he had numerous times through the night, just to wave, and people were throwing stuffed toys and things at him. And he just took one step too many and just disappeared in a flash. He didn't have time to put his arms out to save himself or anything, he just dropped."

Buffett was rendered unconscious but was discharged from St Vincent’s Hospital the next day.

A legendary musician and businessman, Buffett is the ultimate proof that a career in music need not follow one particular path. His calling card Margaritaville was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016 for its cultural and historic significance and will forever be the sound of Key West Florida and most great karaoke nights.