James William “Jimmy” Buffett (born December 25, 1946) is an American musician, songwriter, author, actor, and businessman. He is best known for his music, which often portrays an “island escapism” lifestyle. Together with his Coral Reefer Band, Buffett has recorded hit songs including “Margaritaville” (ranked 234th on the Recording Industry Association of America’s list of “Songs of the Century”) and “Come Monday”. He has a devoted base of fans known as “Parrotheads”.
Aside from his career in music, Buffett is also a best-selling writer and is involved in two restaurant chains named after two of his best-known songs, “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and “Margaritaville”. He owns the Margaritaville Cafe restaurant chain and co-developed the Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant chain.
Jimmy Buffett began his musical career in Nashville, Tennessee, during the late 1960s as a country artist and recorded his first album, the folk rock Down to Earth, in 1970. During this time, Buffett could be frequently found busking for tourists in New Orleans. Country music singer Jerry Jeff Walker took him to Key West on a busking expedition in November 1971. Buffett then moved to Key West and began establishing the easy-going beach-bum persona for which he is known. He started out playing for drinks at the Chart Room Bar in the Pier House Motel. Following this move, Buffett combined country, folk, rock, and pop music with coastal as well as tropical lyrical themes for a sound sometimes called “gulf and western”. Today, he is a regular visitor to the Caribbean island of Saint Barts and other islands where he gets inspiration for many of his songs and some of the characters in his books.
Buffett’s third album was the 1973 A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean. Albums Living & Dying in 3/4 Time and A1A both followed in 1974, Havana Daydreamin’ appeared in 1976, and Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, followed in 1977 and featured the breakthrough hit song “Margaritaville”.
With the untimely death of friend and mentor Jim Croce in September 1973, ABC/Dunhill Records tapped Buffett to fill his space. Earlier, Buffett had visited Croce’s farm in Pennsylvania and met with Croce in Florida.
During the 1980s, Buffett made far more money from his tours than his albums and became known as a popular concert draw. He released a series of albums during the following twenty years, primarily to his devoted audience, and also branched into writing and merchandising. In 1985, Buffett opened a “Margaritaville” retail store in Key West, and in 1987, he opened the Margaritaville Cafe. During the 1980s, Buffett played at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He briefly changed the name of the band from the “Coral Reefer Band” to the “Coral Reef Band” to honor the HLS&R’s request; they thought “Reefers” was a drug-related reference. HLS&R is a charity event that provides student grants to children and young adults who compete in agriculture contests (FFA).
Two of the more out-of-character albums are Christmas Island, a collection of Christmas songs, and Parakeets, a collection of Buffett songs sung by children and containing “cleaned-up” lyrics (like “a cold root beer” instead of “a cold draft beer”).
In 1997, Buffett collaborated with novelist Herman Wouk to create a short-lived musical based on Wouk’s novel, Don’t Stop the Carnival. Broadway showed little interest in the play (following the failure of Paul Simon’s The Capeman), and it ran only for six weeks in Miami. He released an album of songs from the musical in 1998.
In August 2000, Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band played on the White House lawn for then President Bill Clinton.
In 2003, he partnered in a partial duet with Alan Jackson for the song “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”, a number-one hit on the country charts. This song won the 2003 Country Music Association Award for Vocal Event of the Year. This was Buffett’s first award of any kind in his 30-year career.
Buffett’s album, License to Chill, released on July 13, 2004, sold 238,600 copies in its first week of release according to Nielsen Soundscan. With this, Buffett topped the U.S. pop albums chart for the first time in his three-decade career.
Buffett continues to tour throughout the year although he has shifted recently to a more relaxed schedule of around 20–30 dates, with infrequent back-to-back nights, preferring to play only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The title of his 1999 live album reflects this: Buffett Live: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays. Purchasing tickets is difficult, with most of his concerts selling out in minutes.
In the summer of 2005 Buffett teamed up with Sirius radio and introduced Radio Margaritaville, and as of November 2008 is also on XM radio channel 24. Until this point Radio Margaritaville was solely an online channel. The channel broadcasts from the Margaritaville restaurant at Universal CityWalk in Orlando, Florida.
In August 2006, he released the album Take The Weather With You. The song “Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On” on this album refers to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Also on the album he pays tribute to Merle Haggard with his rendition of “Silver Wings” and covers, with Mark Knopfler playing on the track, “Whoop De Doo.” On August 30, 2007, he received his star on the Mohegan Sun Walk of Fame.
On December 8, 2009, Jimmy Buffett released his 28th studio album entitled Buffet Hotel.
On April 20, 2010, a double CD of performances recorded during the 2008 and 2009 tours called Encores was released exclusively at Walmart, Walmart.com and Margaritaville.com.
Buffett partnered in a duet with the Zac Brown Band on the song “Knee Deep”: released on Brown’s 2010 album You Get What You Give, it became a hit country and pop single in 2011. Also in 2011, Buffett voiced Huckleberry Finn on Mark Twain: Words & Music, which was released on Mailboat Records. The project is a benefit for the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum and includes Clint Eastwood as Mark Twain, Garrison Keillor as the narrator, and songs by Brad Paisley, Sheryl Crow, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, and others.
Of the over 30 albums Jimmy Buffett has released, as of October 2007, 8 are Gold Albums and 9 Platinum or Multi Platinum. In 2003 Buffett won his first ever Country Music Award (CMA) for his song “It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere” with Alan Jackson, and was nominated again in 2007 for the CMA Event of the Year Award for his song “Hey Good Lookin” which featured Alan Jackson and George Strait.
Buffett released his latest album, Songs From St. Somewhere, on August 20, 2013.
Buffett has performed his concert 58 times in Mansfield, MA at the venue amphitheatre Great Woods (AKA Xfinity Center) the most in any city and venue in his life. Buffett has called the Mansfield, Great Woods tailgating the best in the world of any place he has ever played.
Last Mango In Paris
MCA Records 1985
Riddles In The Sand
MCA Records 1984
One Particular Harbor
MCA Records 1983
MCA Records 1979