American singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett dies aged 76 | US news – The Guardian US

The American singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett has died aged 76.

The musician, who was best known for his hit Margaritaville, died in his sleep, a statement said.

The statement on his account on X, formerly known as Twitter, said: “Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of 1 September 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.”

Buffett popularised beach bum soft rock and turned that celebration of loafing into an empire of restaurants, resorts and frozen concoctions.

Buffett was born on Christmas Day 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and raised in the port town of Mobile, Alabama. He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg and went from busking the streets of New Orleans to playing six nights a week at Bourbon Street clubs.

He released his first record, Down To Earth, in 1970. He performed on more than 50 studio and live albums, often accompanied by his Coral Reefer Band, and was constantly on tour. He earned two Grammy award nominations, two Academy of Country Music awards and a Country Music Association award.

Margaritaville, his biggest hit, was released in 1977. The song is the unhurried portrait of a loafer on his front porch, watching tourists sunbathe while a pot of shrimp is beginning to boil.

It became a seaside standard and inspired generations of fans – known as Parrotheads – to celebrate easy living.

“What seems like a simple ditty about getting blotto and mending a broken heart turns out to be a profound meditation on the often painful inertia of beach dwelling,” Spin magazine wrote in 2021. “The tourists come and go, one group indistinguishable from the other. Waves crest and break whether somebody is there to witness it or not. Everything that means anything has already happened and you’re not even sure when.”

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The song, from the album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, spent 22 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at No 8. It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016 for its cultural and historical significance, became a karaoke standard and helped brand Key West, Florida as a distinct sound of music and a destination known the world over.

“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.”

The song inspired restaurants and resorts, turning Buffett’s alleged desire for the simplicity of island life into a multimillion-dollar brand. He landed at No 13 in Forbes’s America’s Richest Celebrities list in 2016 with a net worth of $550m.

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