A Legend Never Dies

James William Buffett

Singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett on a boat looking off in the distance.

(December 25, 1946 – September 1, 2023)

The beloved singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett passed away at his home in Sag Harbor, Long Island on Friday September 1, 2023 surrounded by family and friends. Buffett, 76, had been fighting Merkel Cell Skin Cancer for four years. He continued to perform during treatment, playing his last show, a surprise appearance in Rhode Island, in early July.

With a recording career that spanned more than fifty years and included hits such as “Margaritaville,” “Come Monday,” and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” Buffett was one of the most successful performers in popular music. He filled arenas with fans who called themselves “Parrot Heads,” and popularized a signature blend of folk, country and Caribbean music with lyrics that often reflected Buffett’s world travels. A pilot and a sailor, Buffett wrote songs about his plane being shot at by Jamaican police (“Jamaica Mistaica”), getting lost in the Sahara Desert (“Buffet Hotel”) and smugglers he had known around the Florida Gulf Coast (“A Pirate Looks at 40”).

Although he was best known for upbeat party songs (others include “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” and “Fins”) Buffett first achieved notoriety for thoughtful ballads that showed the influence of Texas songwriters such as Jerry Jeff Walker and Canadian Gordon Lightfoot.

Bob Dylan praised lesser-known Buffett compositions “He Went to Paris” and “Death of an Unpopular Poet” – songs that reflected the observational, storytelling skills Buffett developed in his early career as a journalist for Billboard magazine.

Buffett had a second career as a successful author. He was one of a handful of writers who had number one best-sellers on both the fiction and non-fiction lists of the New York Times Book Review.

He had a third career as an entrepreneur, building a diversified lifestyle brand business, including Margaritaville hotels, restaurants, and retirement communities, along with sidelines such as Land Shark beer. Buffett’s branding and business acumen made him one of the most financially successful musicians of all time.

James William Buffett was born on Christmas, 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi and grew up in Alabama. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1969. He credited early years playing and singing in the streets and bars of New Orleans with shaping his dedication to connecting with his audience and giving the customers a good show. Buffett had little patience with performers who took themselves too seriously. He liked to say that the job of singing for a living was descended from the profession of court jester.

Buffett is survived by his wife of 46 years, Jane (Slagsvol) Buffett, his daughters Savannah Jane (Joshua) and Sarah Delaney, his son Cameron Marley (Lara), his grandson Marley Ray and devoted pack of dogs Lola, Kingston, Pepper, Rosie, Ajax and Kody. Also survived by his Montana sister, Laurie Buffett McGuane (Tom), their children Heather Hume, Anne Buffett McGuane, Maggie McGuane and Thomas McGuane IV; his Alabama sister, Lucy Buffett and daughters Mara Delaney Buffett O’Dwyer and Melanie Leigh Buffett; and many more wonderful cousins, nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Jimmy Buffett’s Foundation Singing for Change, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute or MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Donate to Singing for Change

Generous, smart, far-sighted – that was our talented boss, Jimmy Buffett, yet these are scant adjectives to describe an unforgettable person. The collective sort of, “What do we do?” is more profound with the loss of Jimmy than others in recent memory.  He inspired generations to just live it up for a minute, stand in the sunshine, celebrate the small stuff…have some fun!

So, how do we move onward and upward? We do it by honoring Jimmy’s spirit of giving, helping others, and having fun along the way. Every contribution to SFC advances Jimmy’s desire to give back and share some success. We’ve been “sprinkling pixie dust” as he called it, all over the US and various parts of the globe since 1995, helping thousands of people find a better way to live. Our funding focus is on non-traditional, grass-roots organizations that might be overlooked by conventional funders. 

“Have fun, make money, and leave the world a better place.” – JB

Lone Palm Foundation

The Lone Palm Foundation is the charitable arm of Parrot Heads in Paradise (PHIP), Inc.

We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization designed to further the commitment of Parrot Heads worldwide and support the social and environmental needs and concerns within their communities.

By supporting our community and its environs on a local level, striving to preserve the world’s ecosystem for generations to follow, exuding genuine concern for humanity by performing charitable actions and giving back to our fellow man in need through our beneficent aid, our philanthropic goals can be achieved.

Inspired by the life style and teachings of Jimmy Buffett, and with the assistance of angels in tropical shirts, we focus on leaving our world a better place for all.

Save the Manatee Club

Save the Manatee Club is an award-winning national nonprofit 501(c)(3) and membership-based organization established in 1981 by renowned singer/songwriter, Jimmy Buffett, and former U.S. Senator, Bob Graham, when he was governor of Florida.

Human activities are harming manatees, and only our compassion and action can protect them.

Manatees are Florida’s official state marine mammal. The IUCN World Conservation Union lists them as vulnerable at the international level. They are listed as threatened at the federal level by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and at the state level by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Their listing status is largely due to human activity. Since record-keeping began in 1974, more than 41% of manatee deaths where the cause of death was identified were human-related – and almost 34% were due to watercraft collisions (the largest known cause of manatee deaths). With increased awareness, education, regulations, and enforcement, manatee deaths caused by humans could be substantially reduced, and the eventual recovery of the species could be realized.