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Cheeseburger in Paradise

Jimmy Buffett, Pirate & songwriter has died

By Dana StewartPublished 28 days ago Updated 28 days ago 3 min read
Top Story - September 2023
NOLA Jazz Festival poster

On Christmas day 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi, the birth of Jimmy Buffett proved a gift not only to the music industry but to the world itself.

Humble beginnings and partially raised in Alabama, he graduated college with a degree in history. A short stint writing for Billboard magazine, followed by several years as a deck hand on a fishing boat, Buffett learned early that life was precious. It was his freshman year at Auburn when he first picked up a guitar.

Buffett began a music career that focused on the good life. Vacations and relaxation, year round, not just for a week or two. Buffett's music is filled with good vibes courtesy of frozen margaritas and flirtatious smiles. Endless sandy beaches with sunsets so spectacular they make you stop and think about what's really important. Spanish moss growing on cypress trees, those Tradewinds on a humid day with a whiff of sea mist that hits you just right and refreshes your soul...and most importantly, cheeseburgers in paradise.

Seriously, is there anything better than eating a greasy cheeseburger sitting under a palm tree? Jimmy Buffett fans, parrot heads are everywhere. At a 1985 concert in Cincinnati, fans showed up to a Buffett concert wearing Hawaiian shirts and carrying inflatable parrots.

The term stuck. And Buffett was knighted. The Pirate. King of the parrot heads.

I suppose it’s only fitting that Mr. Sunshine, his music the epitome that defines the essence of laid back, slipped away from this life peacefully on September 1, 2023, at the end of summer on Labor Day weekend.

I feel as though I've lost a good friend.

His first album titled Down to Earth was released in 1970.

But it was his single Margaritaville off his Changes in Latitudes album that put him on the map. The lyrics stay with you.

Nibblin' on sponge cake

Watchin' the sun bake

All those tourists covered with oil

Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing

Smell those shrimp, hey they're beginnin' to boil

Wastin' away again in Margaritaville

Here’s a clip from The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

When Buffett was interviewed in 2011, he admitted that Margaritaville didn't really exist but in his head. That he made it up from his real experiences in Key West and having to go back on the road to work. Bidding his time until he could get back to the beach.

His vision breathed with a successful restaurant chain bearing the same name and a 55+ community in several cities: Hilton Head, Daytona Beach and Water Sound, which is near Panama City Beach, Florida. The community is named aptly: Latitude Margaritaville. And it's prime real estate with a long waiting list to live there.

Buffett launched his music career in New Orleans, and that city's voodoo stayed with him all his life. If you've ever been to New Orleans, you understand why Buffett was so passionate about the city below sea level. In the late 1960's he busked in the French Quarter before his upgrade to play in the bars that line the famous Bourbon Street.

Buffett was passionate about New Orleans - the Saints football team, French pastries and Cajun seafood and most of all, the music. He played at NOLA's Jazz Fest several times over the course of his career.

To fans delight, Buffett also had a recurring guest role on CBS's Hawaii-Five O and Blue Bloods.

Jimmy Buffett with Alex O'Loughlin on 'Hawaii Five-0' Courtesy of

I had the pleasure of meeting him one time. Okay, so I didn't actually meet him. He was having lunch at Lulu's, a local seaside dive in Orange Beach. No fan fare, no burly security guards in tow, just a man out with a few friends for a late lunch. I remember being starstruck at the man with Walmart feet. The musician was notoriously barefoot in life and on stage.

Photo Jeff Goad, NOLA

Of course he ordered a cheeseburger in paradise.

Jimmy Buffett was a talented musician but he also enjoyed life to the fullest. While his passing feels personal to so many, myself included, his legacy of fun and great tunes lives and breathes.

An endless beach. The sun has set, I feel the coolness of trade winds on my cheek.

Thank you, Jimmy Buffett. For the music, for the fun, for the memories. Your life was well lived. You are loved.

Here's a clip of Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett's collaboration - It's Five O'clock somewhere.

Fins up.

celebrities90s music80s music70s music

About the Creator

Dana Stewart

Soup lover proudly owned by fluffy little lap dogs. Likes: sunsets, chocolate, witty replies, and good hair days. Dislikes: Mean people and flan. Hit that subscribe button.

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Comments (46)

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  • Terrye Turpin7 days ago

    This brings up some good memories.

  • Gina C.7 days ago

    Amazing, wonderfully written and emotional tribute, Dana! 🥹❤️ I'm so sorry I missed this. Music plays such a big role in our lives. I didn't know much about Jimmy Buffet, but that song is definitely playing in my mind now. ❤️ Thank you so much for sharing this and congrats on Top Story! 🤗❤️

  • Mackenzie Davis20 days ago

    OMG this song has been running through my head since it was made TS! I know absolutely nothing about Jimmy Buffet, but I completely loved your article about him. I didn't think I'd find it interesting --- I was SO wrong! Loved those pictures you included. And the bit about LA is awesome, as I've been there and feel a bit of camaraderie with him loving it too. Also, for some reason, the barefoot pic just lit up my whole being. I must listen to his music this week... Wonderful read!!

  • Ahna Lewis20 days ago

    I honestly didn't know much about Jimmy Buffet before his passing, so I appreciated this read! Informative and well-written!

  • Kristen Balyeat21 days ago

    What a fantastic tribute to such a cool dude!!! You did an incredible job on this piece, Dana! I had no idea he launched his career in New Orleans! I was born there and my parents used to take me to the jazz fest when I was a kid. May have seen him without knowing it:) Such a great piece to honor a talented and awesome human! 💫✨

  • Great Story. Jimmy Buffet was a great musician. Funny aside my favorite Buffet song for years wasn't actually a Buffet song at all it was a Rupert Holmes song Escape (The Pina Colada Song) I always thought Jimmy would have done a great cover of it.

  • Kuba Fiszer26 days ago

    Congratulations! Dana

  • Congratulations! Dana ❤️

  • Congratulations! Dana

  • Caroline Jane27 days ago

    Wonderful tribute Dana. ❤️

  • Éva Körmöczy27 days ago

    Congratulations! Dana

  • Brenton F27 days ago

    Love his barefootedness the most I think! A brilliant and worthy article to celebrate another dead rock star RIP Jimmy!

  • Congrats

  • Tymara Howard27 days ago


  • Dorota27 days ago

    Congrats on the well deserved to story Dana

  • Andrew Zuk27 days ago

    Congratulations! Dana

  • congratulations on to story Dana

  • Lamar Wiggins27 days ago

    Very well written and informative. The world will miss him. Thank you, Dana for shining the light on the man he was… God rest his soul.

  • Real Poetic27 days ago

    Great writing Dana! Congratulations! 🎉

  • A lovely tribute, congratulations on to story Dana 🕊️✨❤️😇

  • R.S. Colorado 27 days ago

    Great tribute!!

  • Schmalz27 days ago

    I needed this, thank you.

  • Tiffany Gordon 27 days ago

    Congrats Dana!

  • JBaz27 days ago

    Congratulations. This was so good

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