Jimmy Buffett, ‘Margaritaville’ Singer, Dies at 76

The singer-songwriter, along with his Coral Reefer Band, were behind hit songs celebrating island life

Jimmy Buffett
Jimmy Buffett performs at the after party for the premiere of Universal Pictures' "Jurassic World" on June 9, 2015 (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Jimmy Buffett, the singer and songwriter of boozy, beach-themed anthems like “Margaritaville” and “Come Monday” that inspired generations of “Parrotheads” to flock to concerts that played like all-night parties, has died. He was 76.

“Jimmy died peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs,” according to a statement on Buffett’s official website. “He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”

An official cause of death wasn’t given, but Buffet had been dealing with long-term health issues. NBC and TMZ report the singer died from cancer, both citing anonymous sources.

In May, Buffett was hospitalized for an undisclosed reason, forcing him to cancel a performance. “Growing old is not for sissies, I promise you,” he said in a statement at the time.

Buffet was also forced to suspend tour dates back in September 2022, again for undisclosed reasons that led to another hospitalization.

Born on Christmas Day, 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi, Buffett began his music career as a country singer in Nashville in the 1960s. He recorded a solo album, “Down to Earth,” in that style in 1970, busking in Nashville, New Orleans and other cities to survive. During a busking trip to Key West, he decided to move there – and that’s where he started to develop his beach-bum lifestyle, which would become the theme of his later hits, and begin to incorporate other styles of music into his work, such as pop, rock and calypso.

After being signed to ABC Records, it was his seventh album in 1977 — “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” — on which “Margaritaville” was recorded. Going into the 1980s, Buffett found that touring was very profitable for him and he became known as quite the showman.

His fans called themselves “Parrotheads” and Buffett would go on to branch out the “Margaritaville” name to retail and the restaurant chain, The Margaritaville Cafe. But it wouldn’t be until 2004, with his “License to Chill” album, when Buffett topped the pop charts for the first time in his career.

While continuing to record albums through 2020, Buffett also started a second restaurant chain, Cheeseburger in Paradise, though it’s no longer operating. With record sales, sold-out concerts, restaurant chains and bestselling books, Buffett would become one of the world’s richest musicians, with a reported $1 billion net worth.