Singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, known for the easygoing song “Margaritaville” and an infamous run-in with local Jamaican police authorities who shot up his seaplane, has died. He was 76.
“Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs,” a statement posted to Buffett’s official website and social media pages said late Friday.
“He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”
No cause of death was given or specifics about his location at the time of his death.
Jamaicans will remember the date, January 16, 1996, when Buffett and U2 singer Bono were shot at by Jamaican police while aboard Buffett’s plane.
Local authorities had been given a tip on a drug-smuggling operation and the baleful eye of the Jamaica Constabulary Force fell on Buffet’s seaplane, the artfully named Hemisphere Dancer. He was piloting that plane during a trip to Jamaica with Bono, Bono’s wife Ali and their two children, Jordan and Eve, along with Island Records founder Chris Blackwell.
When Buffet landed, the eager officers fired off no fewer than seven rounds at the plane, shattering the windshield. Bono and his wife were forced to take evasive action as bullets flew over their heads.
He later satirized the incident in a song titled Jamaica Mistaica.
Buffett was born on Christmas Day 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi and raised in the port town of Mobile, Alabama. He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, and went from busking on the streets of New Orleans to playing six nights a week at Bourbon Street clubs.
He released his first record, Down To Earth, in 1970. He performed on more than 50 studio and live albums, often accompanied by his Coral Reefer Band, and was constantly on tour. He earned two Grammy award nominations, two Academy of Country Music awards and a Country Music Association award.
Margaritaville, his biggest hit, was released in 1977. The song, from the album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, spent 22 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at No. 8. It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016.
Buffett turned that celebration of lollygagging and lounging about into a multimillion-dollar brand with an impressive kingdom of resorts, ‘Parrotheads’ and frozen concoctions. He landed at No 13 in Forbes’s America’s Richest Celebrities list in 2016 with a net worth of $550m.