The beloved singer brought a big smile and relaxed vibe to all he did. He died on Sept. 1, 2023 at 76 years old
The music world lost a light on Sept. 1, 2023, when Jimmy Buffett died at the age of 76.
Throughout his lengthy, successful career, the singer was known for his laid-back, eternal vacation vibes, which drew thousands of loyal fans to concerts, a Broadway show and even a chain of restaurants and hotels.
"I wish I could say that some secret plan for world domination was devised years ago, but I don't have a clue as to why, when or how all this happened. I'm not going to dissect it," Buffett told PEOPLE in 1994. "It'd ruin all the fun of being in the middle of it."
Here, a look back on his life in photos.
Jimmy Buffett's Early Years
Jimmy Buffett was born on Dec. 25, 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and raised partially in Alabama.
After graduating from college with a history degree, Buffett worked briefly as a writer for Billboard magazine, and also spent several years working on a fishing boat before releasing his first album, Down to Earth, in 1970.
Wasting Away in 'Margaritaville'
It was Buffett's 1977 single "Margaritaville," off the album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, that really put him on the map.
Buffett continued to release a steady stream of albums over the next few decades, but became known mainly as a massive concert draw, with his annual shows with his Coral Reefer Band raking in millions for the star.
His Ongoing Career
Buffett released more than 30 albums over his career, and was nominated for two Grammy Awards, for "Hey Good Lookin'," his 2004 song with Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, George Strait, Clint Black and Toby Keith, and the Alan Jackson duet "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere," which was released in 2003. The latter won him his lone major music honor, a CMA Award for vocal event of the year.
Despite his devoted fan base and the popularity of his songs, he never had a solo No. 1 on the Billboard charts ("Margaritaville" peaked at No. 8).
Jimmy and Jane
Buffett married his second wife Jane Slagsvol, a former model, in 1977, and the pair were parents to daughters Savannah, a radio personality, and Sarah, and son Cameron, whom they welcomed by adoption in the early 1990s.
Buffett was previously married to Margie Washichek from 1969 to 1971.
Buffett on Broadway
In 2017, the singer's tunes got their own jukebox Broadway musical, Escape to Margaritaville, which made its way to Broadway for a brief run in 2018.
Buffett had previously spoken about developing a love of musical theater as a child thanks to his mom Mary, who spent her time off from the shipyard with the Mobile Theatre Guild in Alabama.
"She would always be in productions, and she would take me to the shows when they'd come through town," he told Entertainment Weekly in 2018.
Restaurants and Beyond
The success of "Margaritaville" helped change the trajectory of Buffett's career, as it went on to spawn a business of the same name featuring everything from resorts and restaurants to apparel and drinks. A chain of "Cheeseburger in Paradise" restaurants followed, based on another of his hit tunes.
In 'Jurassic World' and Beyond
Peep that guy running from dinos with margaritas in hand? It's Buffett, who cameoed in 2015's Jurassic World, plus a handful of other movies and TV shows, most recently Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods.
Playing for Parrotheads
Through it all, Buffett kept touring almost annually, bringing out his Parrotheads (a.k.a. fans) to concerts around the world.
"What's most important is to please the Parrotheads, because there's more to the music than just the music," he told EW in 1995. "It's become a lifestyle. I wish I could take credit, but it's fan-generated."
Man Behind the Music
In addition to his music, Buffett was a best-selling author and philanthropist who founded the nonprofit Save the Manatee Club in 1981 with then-Florida Gov. Bob Graham.
Forbes reported in 2023 that the star was a billionaire, and that his assets included an estimated $570 million from touring and recording, a music catalog worth $50 million and $140 million in planes, homes and shares in Berkshire Hathaway.
Buffett also lived quite the adventurous life, surviving at least three near-death experiences during his adult life on boats and in planes.
His Later Years
Buffett was forced to reschedule a concert in May of 2023 after he was hospitalized in Boston "to address some issues that needed immediate attention," he told fans in a statement shared to Twitter. "Growing old is not for sissies, I promise you."
He died from Merkel cell skin cancer on September 1, 2023, at 76 years old.
“Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs," read a statement shared to social media and his website, accompanied by a touching photograph of Buffett sitting on a boat. "He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many."
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