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Jimmy Buffett sang about P.E.I., but died before he could see it

Lennie Gallant, right, and Jimmy Buffett reunited last spring to co-write some songs and visit at Buffett's home in Florida. (Lennie Gallant/Facebook - image credit)
Lennie Gallant, right, and Jimmy Buffett reunited last spring to co-write some songs and visit at Buffett's home in Florida. (Lennie Gallant/Facebook - image credit)

Jimmy Buffett never got the chance to follow through on his plan to visit Prince Edward Island this fall, but the Island is linked in one of the final songs he recorded.

Buffett, the U.S.-based musician who romanticized beach culture with hits like Margaritaville, died Sept. 1 at the age of 76.

His death has been mourned by music lovers around the world, including P.E.I., where he had developed a friendship with fellow songwriter Lennie Gallant.

Gallant had stayed at Buffett's home in Florida in the spring while working on his own album, and had co-written two songs on Buffett's upcoming album. One contains references to P.E.I.

He had messaged with Buffett as recently as two weeks ago, saying he was in treatment for cancer but "hoping for the best."

"He wanted to come up to visit and he was hoping to get up here in October and so he was asking if I would be free if he came up at that time. So to hear of him passing like that … was quite a shock."

Gallant had planned to show him around P.E.I., especially the North Shore area where Gallant has roots. "I wanted to take him to a couple of places mentioned … in the song."

Inspired more than music

October may have been too late to enjoy the P.E.I. beaches, and while no doubt Buffett enjoyed "nibblin' on sponge cake" and "watching the sun bake," he wasn't exactly wasting away in Margaritaville in the later years of his life, Gallant said. He worked out in the gym, and would often talk about going surfing and fishing.

"I was kind of inspired…. I gotta get off my ass and get out there myself, start doing things because … there was Jimmy at his age and he's rocking it … a very fit guy," Gallant said.

"It was so sudden and I know the world will really miss him. His songs, his attitude, were such a big part of so many people's lives and it was such an honour to get to know him and to be invited into a little part of his life. It meant the world to me."