Jimmy Buffett Biography: The Man, The Music, The Margaritas


Why a Jimmy Buffett biography? The answer is quite simple: Jimmy Buffett inspired me to not only take my first trip to the Caribbean, but also to remember to working hard is just as important as playing hard, and can even be the same thing!

As you will see in our Jimmy Buffett biography, he is known principally for singing and writing songs; however, he has written several books (most recently "Swine Not") and is successful businessman and outstanding philanthropist.

Jimmy's music has a distinct 'island escapism' style, which is a reflection of his life philosophy. His musical style inspired my first trips to the islands, first aboard cruise ships, and later visiting resorts and hotels on the many Caribbean islands.

For me (and many others), Jimmy's music keeps the Caribbean vibe going when you do not have a chance to soak in the Caribbean sun. Whenever I need to relax and get away, I just pop in a Buffett tune, and I find myself sitting on the sugary sands at the edge of the crystal waters of the Caribbean islands.

Jimmy Buffett Biography: Personal Facts

Jimmy Buffett was born on December 25th, 1946, as James William Buffett, at Jackson County Memorial Hospital near “that sleepy little town” of Pascagoula, Mississippi.

He is the son of James Delaney “J.D.” Buffett Jr., and mother Mary Loraine “Peets” Buffett. Though he was born in Mississippi, he spent much of his childhood in Mobile, Alabama and attended grade school at St. Ignatius Catholic School. Buffett attended the McGill Institute for Boys (now the co-ed McGill-Toolen Catholic High School). He graduated in 1964.

His college years were then spent at Auburn University, where he learned to play guitar. He would eventually earn his bachelors degree in history in 1969 from The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. While there he also joined the fraternity Kappa Sigma, however he left it fairly promptly.

After graduation, Jimmy started to work for Billboard Magazine in Nashville, Tennessee as a correspondent. While doing so he broke the news of the breakup of the Foggy Mountain Boys, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.

He is married to Jane Slagsvol Buffett (married August 27th, 1977). They met in 1961 while she was on her spring break from the University of South Carolina in Columbia. They were married in Aspen, Colorado with the Eagles (yes, those Eagles) providing the musical entertainment for the evening.

They had their fist child, Savannah Jane Buffett, on June 1st, 1979.

After about five years of marriage, Jane and Jimmy separated. However, after many years of separation, they got back together in 1991 and have remained together ever since.

They had their second child not long after. Sarah Delaney Buffett was born April 1st, 1992.

The adopted their third child, and only son, Cameron Marley Buffett in 1994.

Jimmy Buffett Biography: Musical Influence

Not surprisingly, considering the area of the country where he spent his formative years, and living in Nashville, Jimmy began to play country music. He recorded his first album in 1970, a folk rock album entitled Down to Earth. Additionally, you could also frequently find Jimmy busking in New Orleans, Louisiana, among other places.

He went busking with the country singer Jerry Jeff Walker in 1970 in Key West, Florida. Not long after, he relocated to Key West and embraced the easy-going, "beach bum" lifestyle which he would ultimately become known for, and which eventually inspired his many fans like me.

While in Key West, Jimmy started to combine the musical genres of pop, country, folk and coastal, with tropical lyrics, to create his own sound, which became known as Gulf and Western, and later Trop Rock.

Today still, he regularly visits various Caribbean islands, where he finds inspiration for his songs and lyrics and also his fictional characters in his books.

Jimmy released the album "A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean" in 1973, "A1A" in 1974, "Havana Daydreamin’" in 1976, and "Changes in Attitudes" in 1977. The song "Margaritaville" first appeared on the latter album and was his breakthrough hit.

Since that time, Jimmy has released many more albums (having a total of 8 gold and 9 platinum/multi-plantnum albums under his belt), and done countless tours and shows that allow his loyal following, the "Parrotheads," to spend a few hours away from the daily grind and find themselves in a tropical escape complete with steel drums and margaritas.

Jimmy Buffett Biography: Other Endeavors

In addition to the inspiration and focus to one day find myself in the Caribbean islands permanently, his strong business sense and renaissance man endeavors remind me that the ability to meet my tropical goals lies in the ability to focus on the business side of my life.

In 1984, Jimmy wondered whether his musical career was winding down. Like any smart businessman, he diversified his portfolio, and opened the first of the chain of restaurants (expanded from a T-shirt shop), Margaritaville, in Key West. Today, there are more than 10 restaurants in the chain (there are three in the Montego Bay, Jamaica Airport alone – I visit them all every time I find myself in Jamaica).

But his success does not end with rhythms and restaurants. Jimmy had one more "r" to conquer – writing. Jimmy has had three New York Times Number 1 Bestsellers: Where Is Joe Merchant? and Tales from Margaritaville, both on the fiction list, and A Pirate Looks at Fifty, on the non-fiction list. This puts him in elite company, with only six other authors (including Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Dr. Seuss) managing to make the top of both lists.

His latest book, Swine Not? was released May 13, 2008.

Jimmy has also dipped his Midas fingers into many other endeavors, including film (he co-produced and performed in "Hoot", and has had many cameo appearances), and baseball (my other passion – Jimmy is part owner of Fort Meyers Miracle and the Madison Black Wolf).

Jimmy Buffett Biography: Charitable Activities

A good Jimmy Buffett biography would not be complete without mentioning his philanthropic activities. Perhaps the most well known of these is the Save the Manatee Club which he co-founded with former Florida governor, Bob Graham.

The "Singing for Change" Foundation provides grants to local charities and was initially funded by his 1995 "Domino College Tour."

I often look to the Jimmy Buffett biography as an inspiration and a reminder that there is more to life than just work. Jimmy's journey reminds me that with the right amount of planning and work (mixed with a pinch of luck), I can have my Margarita and drink it too!





Additional Jimmy Buffett Resources:

Our List of the Best Jimmy Buffett Lyrics

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