Childhood & Early Life
James William Buffett was born on December 25, 1946, in Pascagoula, Mississippi, the USA, to Mary Lorraine and James Delaney Buffett, Jr. He grew up in Mobile, Alabama, and later moved to Fairhope, Alabama.
He was passionate about music from his childhood. He went to St. Ignatius School and played the trombone in the school band. Since his grandfather was a sailor, he was exposed to sailing as a little boy, and this had an impact on his music.
In 1964, he graduated from McGill Institute for Boys. He then went to Pearl River Community College and also attended Auburn University, where he played the guitar.
In 1969, he graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor's degree in history. At the university, he was involved in the Kappa Sigma, the largest college social fraternity in the world.
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After graduation, Jimmy Buffett worked as a correspondent for Billboard magazine in Nashville. He started his musical career in the late 1960s, and released his first album, ‘Down to Earth’ in 1970.
His album ‘A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean’ was released in 1973, followed by the albums ‘Living & Dying in 3/4 Time’ and ‘A1A’ in 1974. The album ‘Havana Daydreamin' was released in 1976.
His album ‘Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes’ was out in 1977. It had the hit song ‘Margaritaville’. The song took the eighth position in the US Billboard Hot 100 and topped the US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks.
In the 1980s, he was involved in 11 tours including ‘A Hot Dog & A Road Map Tour,’ ‘Somewhere over China Tour,’ and ‘A Pirate Looks at Forty Tour.’ He became very popular as a crowd puller at concerts during this period.
He launched several business ventures, taking advantage of his popularity and fan following. In 1985, he started the Margaritaville restaurant in Key West, Florida. He also owns the Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant, Margaritaville Tequila, Margaritaville Footwear, and Margaritaville Foods.
He launched the Margaritaville Records in 1993; the distribution under the label was managed through MCA Records. His previous contract with MCA Records ended in 1996 with the release of ‘Christmas Island’.
Based on Herman Wouk's novel ‘Don't Stop the Carnival’, Buffett developed a musical. While Wouk wrote the book for the show, Buffett wrote the music and the lyrics. The show started in Miami, Florida in 1997.
As critics gave negative reviews to the musical, the producers wanted Buffett to fire Wouk and hire an experienced playwright. When Buffett turned down the proposal, the show was canceled. However, he converted the show into an album and released it in 1998.
He started Mailboat Records in 1999 to launch his live albums. In 2005, he signed a partnership with RCA Records for distribution of two studio albums, ‘License to Chill’ and ‘Take The Weather With You’.
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In 2006, he was featured in the film ‘Hoot’, directed by Wil Shriner. Buffett wrote the soundtrack and co-produced it as well. He also wrote the theme song for the television series ‘Johnny Bago’; ‘Turning Around’ for the film ‘Summer Rental’; and ‘I Don't Know (Spicoli's Theme)’ for the film ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High.’
In 2006, he also partnered with the Anheuser-Busch brewing company to produce beer under the label of LandShark Lager.
Although he has not been featured in any main roles in films, he has made several cameo appearances in films like ‘Rancho Deluxe’, ‘Congo’, ‘From the Earth to the Moon’, and ‘Jurassic World.’
He partly owns the baseball teams, the Fort Myers Miracle and the Madison Black Wolf.
In 2012, he released the ‘Margaritaville Online’ game for Facebook. However, it was discontinued within two years. In 2013, he started the Margaritaville Casino at the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 2016, he partnered with FunPlus and developed a new Margaritaville game.
His company Margaritaville Holdings partnered with Minto Communities and planned a $1 billion worth retirement village in Daytona Beach, Florida, called Latitude Margaritaville. There will be about 7,000 homes in the village by the time the project is completed.
In 2017, he developed a musical, ‘Escape to Margaritaville’, which debuted in San Diego. The show was also run in New Orleans, Houston, and Chicago. It received good reviews from critics. The show features some of Buffett's classic songs.
The most popular song of Jimmy Buffett’s career is ‘Margaritaville’, which was a part of the 1977 album ‘Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes’. The song, written by Buffett, was about a drink he had discovered at a restaurant in Austin, Texas. It reached number eight on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and topped the Easy Listening chart.
Buffett and Alan Jackson won the 2003 CMA Award for Vocal Event Of The Year for the song ‘It's Five O'Clock Somewhere’. The song, written by Jim ‘Moose’ Brown and Don Rollins, remained at number 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for eight weeks in 2003.
Jimmy Buffett married Margie Washichek in 1969. The couple divorced in 1971.
He and his second wife Jane Slagsvol have two daughters—Savannah Jane and Sarah Delaney. They also have adopted a son, Cameron Marley. While Buffett and Jane separated in the late 1980s, they sorted out their differences and reconciled in 1991.
Buffett has a house in St Barts on the Caribbean island. He loves to travel on the East Coast on his sailboat. He enjoys flying as well and owns a Dassault Falcon 900, a French-built corporate jet aircraft. He also owns a Boeing Stearman, Lake Amphibian, and Grumman Albatross.
Buffett is popular for his charity work. In 1981, he, along with former Florida governor Bob Graham founded the Save the Manatee Club, which is the world's leading manatee protection organization. He also supports the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory.
The singer was drawn into a controversy in 1983 when he recorded the song ‘God's Own Drunk’ for his album ‘Living and Dying in 3/4 Time’. Late entertainer Lord Buckley’s son sued him for $11 million for copyright infringement and claimed that Buffett had lifted portions of Buckley's song ‘A Tribute to Buckley’. The court, therefore, banned Buffett from performing the song at any show till the lawsuit was resolved.
In 1996, the Jamaican police shot at Buffett’s Grumman HU-16 airplane, suspecting it of smuggling marijuana. Later, the Jamaican government apologized for the mistake. Buffett composed the song ‘Jamaica Mistaica’ based on this experience.
Through his hurricane relief concert called ‘Surviving the Storm’, organized in Orlando, Florida in November 2004, he raised funds for the hurricane victims in Florida. In 2010, he organized a free concert on the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama in response to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf.