Strangely enough when I read the unfathomable, sorrowful, despairing news of the Songwriter / Music Man was on early morning of the Saturday before Labor Day while attending my first ever Rocklahoma event in Pryor, OK about 45 minutes from Tulsa. First thing that came to my mind other than disbelief and salty water dripping from my eyes were the lyrics of Come Monday,’ “...For the Labor Day Weekend Show …”
I’ve always believed that Jimmy Buffett R,I.P. would be around as long as I had breath and a margarita in my hand. Unfortunately fate and GOD had different plans for the one-of-a-kind troubadour of which music critics wrote and stated that Jimmy’s style of music would never make it, but did he ever prove them wrong. Some call it Trop Rock, others say Caribbean Country, but to hundreds of thousands of Parrot Heads it was and is music, “…some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic…”
Jimmy is one of the main reasons I got hooked on that 100% blue agave juice and have co-founded our Bajarriba Tequila brand, “that frozen concoction that helps me hang on … wasted again in Margaritaville ...” Mr. Buffett has played such an important role in my life for someone that I only knew from a distant seat in a crowd anticipating his iconic appearance and singing along with him while he performed for thousands of fans, just like me, some closer to the stage and some farther seated in the grass or lawn chair or bleacher stands than I. Three of my books mention Jimmy Buffett as in some of his songs, just the same way as I had mentioned the Eagles or Bret Michaels in one of my stories – music is so related to life, especially Jimmy’s or as some referred to him as “Bubba.”
Some of you may be asking about the two words I used earlier in the second paragraph: What is a Parrot Head? It is like minded individuals who love the music genre that Jimmy Buffett started with his hit song ‘Margaritaville” that portrayed a lifestyle as “island escapism” in 1977 which is ranked 234th on the Recording Industry Association of America’s list of “Songs of the Century.” There are literally hundreds of Parrot Head clubs around the US and the World. I personally belong to the Arizona Parrot Head Club of which we just celebrated 24 years as a club. The first Club was established on April 1st, 1989 in Atlanta, GA with 15 members. By the end of 1992, clubs had emerged in Beaumont, Dallas, New York City, Orlando, Detroit and in New Orleans where Jimmy began his music career in 1969. The nickname originated in a 1985 concert in Cincinnati, OH, where Buffett fans were carrying inflatable parrots and wearing Hawaiian shirts. The Parrot Head Clubs are “Party with a Purpose” as written by another Trop Rock icon – Mr. Brent Burns in the song ‘Parrot Head Rendevous’ who coincidentally has played for years at Lulu’s in Gulf Shores, AL which is owned by Jimmy’s sister. Over the years, the Parrot Heads have raised more than several million dollars for various charities all while having fun and listening to Buffett style music.
Born James William Buffett on Christmas Day in 1946, and changing latitudes for a better place on September 1st, 2023. Jimmy was an American singer – songwriter, musician, author, and a businessman who ruled the empire known as Margaritaville and all it’s merchandising. “He was best known for his hit songs known as the “The Big 8” which included “Margaritaville,” “Come Monday,” “Fins,” “Volcano,” “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” “Why Don’t We Get Drunk,” and another couple great songs he penned were “Son of a Son of Sailor,” “He went to Paris,” and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.”
Over the years I attended three of his many live concerts, in Phoenix, Santa Barbara and Denver, each time I felt as if I didn’t have a care in the world when listening to him. I saw Jimmy more than any other artist whom I had to pay my hard-earned dollars to see live at a venue. To exhibit what this meant to me, consider this, I’ve seen the Eagles twice, Sammy Hagar twice, George Strait twice and all the other greats such as The Rolling Stones, Garth Brooks, Bret Michaels / Poison, Joan Jett, Rod Stewart, Alice Cooper, Beach Boys, Kid Rock, Cyndi Lauper, and many others, one time only.
Here is what Joe Walsh posted on his Facebook page on September 2, 2023: “Jimmy Buffett was an immediate friend that day we met back in 1970. He got signed to the same record label as the James Gang, Three Dog Night and Steppenwolf. We all had a good laugh wondering what the hell he was doing there with such a motley crew… even Jimmy himself! But he showed us all that he was built to last. A great sailor, a good friend and a man who did a lot of good for this world while nobody was looking. I’m still honored to have played at his and Janie’s wedding. Here’s a pic from a fan video of us doing what we did best… playing rock and roll for charity gig back in Chicago in ’99. I love you, Jimmy. I miss you already.”
“Wrinkles only go where smiles have been” Jimmy Buffett
“I have always looked at life as a voyage, mostly wonderful, sometimes frightening. In my family and friends I have discovered treasure more valuable than gold.” – Jimmy Buffett
Only three times has the loss of a “Celebrity” caused me so much pain and grief only known to happen when a friend or family member has passed. I didn’t know Elvis, nor Princess Diane or Jimmy Buffett, but felt as if I had known them from what I saw on television, what I read and with Jimmy on what I witnessed when he was on the stage live and I only a few hundred feet away from the Man, the Songwriter and a performing, living Legend.
Yes, the ‘Margaritaville’ singer Jimmy Buffett, who turned beach-bum life into an empire has passed and is now on a distant shore, resting from the work, the play, the goodness, and all the fellowship he created. The next time you’re on a beach and the sunset is sinking into the ocean, if you look closely, you might just see Jimmy “strumming his six-string ….”, and if you don’t appreciate his music, well then “that’s your own damn fault!” - Rico Austin, September 3, 2023