Jimmy Buffett Biography

Jimmy Buffett CD
Jimmy Buffett CD, available from Amazon.com.

The Jimmy Buffett biography is filled with all of the globe hopping good times one would expect of a man who has made a living off of songs that tell of the easy life in the sunshine. However, it is also a story of a hard working, enterprising businessman who has built an empire on the back of his love for sun, sand, and laid back living.

Jimmy Buffett Biography - The Early Years

Jimmy Buffett was born in 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi, but spent most of his childhood in the town of Mobile, Alabama. This Gulf Coast town is known as a music city, but Buffett didn't actually pick up the guitar until his college years (he attended first Auburn University and then the University of Southern Mississippi). At this point in his life, performing music was only a hobby to Buffett; he was instead much more interested in pursuing music journalism.

After college, Buffett did just that. He landed a job in the Nashville, Tennessee based offices of Billboard Magazine. Covering the Nashville country scene re-ignited the performance spark in Buffett, however, and soon he went into the studio and recorded his first album, Down to Earth. The album, which was straightforward folk music, came out in 1970, to a very unenthusiastic audience. During this period, however, Buffett was traveling around the Deep South and busking, honing his performances, which served him well in later years.

It is at this point in the Jimmy Buffett biography that his life takes a fateful turn. On a busking trip to Key West, Florida, he decided to remain there. Beach life in Key West gave Buffett the inspiration for the kind of music he would go on to make his own.

Breakthrough Album and Beyond

Buffett continued to release albums throughout the 1970s (most notably, Havana Daydreamin'), but it was not until 1977 that he achieved any form of mainstream success. That 1977 album was called Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude, and it spawned several of his best known songs, including the title track and the ubiquitous Margaritaville.

After Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude put Buffett on the music map, he released a string of albums through the 1980s right through to present day, each of which has sold well (in fact, his 2004 effort, Licensed to Chill was his first album to reach number one on the Billboard Charts). Despite his consistent music sales, with Buffet, the real story is not so much about his albums. Rather, his career is all about his live shows and his extensive marketing of himself as a brand.

Live Shows

Jimmy Buffett is unique among musicians, because he not only sells music, but he sells a lifestyle. Nearly all of Buffett's songs are about laid back days spent kicking back on the beach or on the water and nights filled with drinking and good times. He sings often of life in the islands or along the American Gulf Coast, and for Buffett's fans, his songs are an escape from the every day - like mini vacations in themselves. Buffett brings these good times to life in his live shows, and his fans, who call themselves "Parrotheads," treat these shows as if they are trips to the places Buffett sings about. Beach bum gear and bottles of beer are de rigueur at Jimmy Buffett concerts, and his fans don't come so much to hear him sing as they do to join in the party. (The closest analogy to the Jimmy Buffett live show phenomenon is the followings that The Grateful Dead and Phish had for their shows, though those shows were much more music centered).

Buffett knows his strengths are in his shows, and so he tours almost non-stop. In fact, he has completed an American tour every year since 1976.

Jimmy Buffett for Sale

Buffett is one of the richest men in show business (the seventh richest musician ever, to be exact), and he has his marketing of himself to thank. Falling under the umbrella of Jimmy Buffett businesses are:

  • Margaritaville chain of restaurants
  • Cheeseburger in Paradise chain of restaurants
  • Margaritaville gift shops
  • Land Shark Lager
  • Margaritaville Tequila
  • Margaritaville Shrimp
  • Margaritaville footwear line
  • Margaritaville Spa and Casino (opening 2010)

Buffett has also written four New York Times Best Seller books and two children's books.

Jimmy Buffett Biography Trivia

Though Jimmy Buffett is a family friendly performer, he has had a few run ins with the law over suspicion of drug possession. In the most dramatic incidence, the Jamaican government attempted to shoot his private plane out of the sky because they believed it was carrying marijuana. The plane, which was also carrying Bono of U2, landed safely but sustained damages. The Jamaican government apologized for the incident and stated no drugs were found on board.

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Jimmy Buffett Biography