Singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett is known for humorous chronicles of a laid-back seafaring life; his philosophical outlook is encapsulated in tunes like “Why Don’t We Get Drunk (and Screw)” and “My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink and I Don’t Love Jesus.” He has since built a small Key West-based financial empire, written several best-selling books, and become a leading environmentalist
On December 25, 1946, Jimmy Buffett was born to James Delaney “J.D.” Buffett Jr. and Mary Loraine “Peets” Buffett in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Buffett spent part of his childhood in Mobile, Alabama. As a boy in grade school, he attended St. Ignatius School. He later lived in Fairhope, Alabama, considered by Buffett his “Home Town” during a 2001 concert. He graduated from high school from McGill Institute for Boys (now McGill-Toolen Catholic High School) in 1964.
He began playing guitar during his college years at Auburn University and The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he received a bachelor’s degree in history in 1969. He was initiated into the fraternity Kappa Sigma (ΚΣ) at the University of Southern Mississippi. After graduating from college, Buffett worked as a correspondent for Billboard magazine in Nashville, breaking the news of the separation of Flatt and Scruggs.
His first album, 1970’s Down to Earth, sold 324 copies. Barnaby Records then temporarily misplaced the master tape of his second album before its release. By 1972 Buffett had left both Nashville and a failed marriage, moving to Key West. There he helped to support himself by smuggling a little marijuana from the Caribbean. He signed to ABC-Dunhill, and his 1973 release, A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean, found Buffett developing his drunken-sailor persona. Buffett’s commercial breakthrough came in 1977 with the platinum Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes (#12) and its hit single, “Margaritaville” (#8).
During that period Buffett toured infrequently, spending most of his time living on his 50-foot ketch Euphoria II. He frequently docked at Montserrat, where his 1979 LP Volcano was recorded. He formed the first version of his Coral Reefer Band in 1975. Buffett scored and acted in the 1974 film Rancho Deluxe, and appeared in the 1977 movie FM His 1981 Coconut Telegraph album inspired a fan-club newsletter of the same name, which has maintained a worldwide subscriber base of “Parrot Heads.”
The 1985 compilation Songs You Know By Heart (subtitled Jimmy Buffett’s Greatest Hit[s] in self-mocking reference to the fact that “Margaritaville” was his only major pop hit) sold two million copies; 1992’s Boats Beaches Bars & Ballads also went platinum. By that time Buffett had established a Margaritaville empire, including a record label and Margaritaville Store and Cafe outlets in Key West and New Orleans. He also wrote two best-selling books, Tales from Margaritaville, a collection of short stories, and the novel Where Is Joe Merchant?, as well as two children’s books, The Jolly Man and Trouble Dolls, both coauthured with his daughter, Savannah Jane. He continues performing to sell-out crowds and crusades on behalf of Florida’s endangered manatees.
Buffett and his second wife Jane (Jane Slagsvol) have two daughters, Savannah Jane and Sarah Delaney, and an adopted son, Cameron Marley, and reside in Palm Beach, Florida. They were separated in the early 1980s, however, they reconciled in 1991.
He and first wife Margie Washichek were married in 1969 and divorced in 1972.
He is a licensed pilot, holding instrument, single and multi-engine land and sea ratings.