“Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs,” a Friday, September 1, statement on Buffett’s Instagram read. “He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”
Nearly five months before his death in May, the “Margaritaville” singer postponed his South Carolina concert after he was taken to the hospital with an undisclosed medical condition.
“I had a sudden change of plans this week that affected us all,” Buffett wrote in a personal note on his website at the time. “Two days ago, I was just back from a trip to the Bahamas, thawing out from the California ‘winter tour,’ and chomping at the bit to get back to Charleston. I had to stop in Boston for a check-up but wound up back in the hospital to address some issues that needed immediate attention.”
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Buffett had previously canceled several shows in fall 2022 due to medical issues.
The musician was born in December 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi, however, he spent part of his childhood in Mobile, Alabama. Buffett found his passion for music at a young age when he played trombone in the school band and later picked up the guitar during his first year at Auburn University. During the 1960s, Buffett moved his career down to Nashville, Tennessee, and recorded his first album, Down to Earth, in 1970.
After dipping his toes in the genre of country music, Buffett moved to Key West, Florida, and began writing songs with an eclectic mix of country, rock, folk, calypso and pop for a sound known as tropical rock. Buffett released five more albums during the 70s’ including Changes in Latitudes And Changes in Altitudes in 1977, which features his iconic track “Margaritaville.”
Aside from his solo work, Buffett collaborated with several big artists throughout his career. Frank Sinatra, Alan Jackson and Zac Brown Bandwere just a few of the artists that he created music with.
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“I’ll tell you a funny story: I got a call from a producer [Phil Ramone], he did the duet albums with Sinatra. He called me and said, ‘They wondered if you’d do ‘Mack the Knife’ with Frank Sinatra.,’” Buffett said in an interview with Pollstar in September 2020. “I was in L.A. and [Ramone] said, ‘We’ll meet you at Capitol Tower at five o’clock.’ And he said, ‘Frank’s not there, but you’ll be singing to the track. He had a couple of drinks before, so he’s really wailing, so it’d be fun to do that.’ I said, ‘I’ll do the same thing.’”
Buffett’s talents extended beyond being a hitmaker. The businessman had several other successful ventures including his restaurant chain Margaritaville Cafe, the Latitude Margaritaville retirement home in Daytona Beach, Florida, and was the part-time owner of two minor league baseball teams. The “Trip Around the Sun” singer has also written three number-one best-selling books including 1989’s Tales from Margaritaville, 1992’s Where Is Joe Merchant? and 1998’s A Pirate Looks at Fifty.
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As for the star’s personal life, Buffett was married to Margie Washichek from 1969 to 1971. Following their split, he married Jane Slagsvol in 1977 and they share two children — Savannah and Sarah, who were born in 1979 and 1992, respectively. They also adopted son Cameron in 1994. Buffett and Slagsvol separated in the early 1980s, but got back together in 1991.
Buffett is survived by his wife and three children.