Late Friday night came the announcement that musician and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett had died at age 76.
Buffett turned the no-worries, good-vibes-only worldview of his calypso-tinged take on singer-songwriter country-rock into an unlikely empire, as a T-shirt shop and café grew into a hospitality company with more than 150 restaurants and bars and more than 30 hotels and resorts. His sole top 10 hit, 1977’s “Margaritaville,” inspired a dedicated fan base known as “Parrotheads,” which helped make him an enduring and popular live act.
Buffett’s death was announced on his website. Although the cause and location of his death were not immediately known, the statement said that he died “surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs. He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”
Reactions to the news of his death came quickly. President Biden released a statement celebrating Buffett's life and work, saying, "His witty, wistful songs celebrate a uniquely American cast of characters and seaside folkways, weaving together an unforgettable musical mix of country, folk, rock, pop, and calypso into something uniquely his own."
Buffett had a long relationship with former President Clinton, having played on the South Lawn of the White House in August 2000. Clinton posted, “Jimmy Buffett’s music brought happiness to millions of people. I’ll always be grateful for his kindness, generosity, and great performances through the years.”
Jimmy Buffett’s music brought happiness to millions of people. I’ll always be grateful for his kindness, generosity, and great performances through the years, including at the White House in 2000. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and legion of devoted fans.
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) September 2, 2023
Paul McCartney wrote a lengthy and heartfelt tribute to Buffett, noting how Buffett had gone out of his way to accommodate McCartney's left-handed guitar-playing one holiday, and later gifted him a specially made guitar.
McCartney wrote, "He had a most amazing lust for life and a beautiful sense of humour. When we swapped tales about the past his were so exotic and lush and involved sailing trips and surfing and so many exciting stories that it was hard for me to keep up with him. Right up to the last minute his eyes still twinkled with a humour that said, ‘I love this world and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it’."
It seems that so many wonderful people are leaving this world, and now Jimmy Buffett is one of them. I’ve known Jimmy for some time and found him to be one of the kindest and most generous people.
I remember once on holiday when I had forgotten to bring my guitar and was… pic.twitter.com/k5B6xgpAh7
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) September 2, 2023
Elton John took to his Instagram stories, writing, “Jimmy Buffett was a unique and treasured entertainer. His fans adored him and he never let them down. This is the saddest of news. A lovely man gone way too soon.”
“Top Gun: Maverick” star Miles Teller posted a photo of himself with Buffett and included the Buffett-esque quote from singer Jimmy Dean, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” - the legend Jimmy Buffett pic.twitter.com/l0aMeuiOCJ
— Miles Teller (@Miles_Teller) September 2, 2023
Singer Alan Jackson also posted a photo of himself with Buffett and a lyric from the song “Boats to Build,” which Jackson and Buffett sang together on Buffett’s 2004 album “License to Chill.”
— Alan Jackson (@OfficialJackson) September 2, 2023
Pro wrestling legend Ric Flair declared, "So Saddened To Hear About The Loss Of My Great Friend Jimmy Buffett! 30 Years Of Friendship! He Was An Amazing Entertainer Who Made The World A Better Place!"
So Saddened To Hear About The Loss Of My Great Friend Jimmy Buffett! 30 Years Of Friendship! He Was An Amazing Entertainer Who Made The World A Better Place! Thank You Jimmy! Rest In Peace! 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/bDr8fZhlh0
— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) September 2, 2023
Rapper and actor LL Cool J posted to Twitter, “Rest in power @jimmybuffett I’m glad we had time to vibe. You were and always will be a Truly inspiring human.”
Rest in power @jimmybuffett I’m glad we had time to vibe. You were and always will be a Truly inspiring human. 🙏🏾❤️🕊️
— LLCOOLJ (@llcoolj) September 2, 2023
TV host Andy Cohen declared Buffett “The king of cool,” while the official account for the football team the New Orleans Saints also paid tribute, declaring Buffett “an iconic performer.”
The king of cool… paradise was wherever Jimmy Buffett was. ❤️☀️🌊🦜🍔 pic.twitter.com/F1HC8G2bUE
— Andy Cohen (@Andy) September 2, 2023
The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson posted the album cover to Buffett’s 1976 album “Havana Daydreamin’” along with a simple message: “Love and Mercy.”
Love and Mercy, Jimmy Buffett pic.twitter.com/9DUqbe8Hmf
— Brian Wilson (@BrianWilsonLive) September 2, 2023
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.