The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

Remembering Jimmy Buffet

Singer dies at 76

One who has  listened to the radio, has probably heard Jimmy Buffett’s voice singing the lyrics to one of his two most popular songs, “Margaritaville” or “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.” The American singer-songwriter was best known for his “island escapism” music that entertained audiences for over 50 years. Sadly, the beloved musician passed away early in the month of September after a four year battle with skin cancer. 

Jimmy Buffett, also known as James William Buffett, was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi on Dec 25, 1946 to Mary Lorraine (Peets) and James Delaney Buffett Junior.

Buffett’s love for music started while he was enrolled at St. Ignatius Elementary School, where he played the trombone in the school’s band. After graduating from the McGill Institute in 1964, he enrolled at Auburn University. 

In his time at Auburn, he pledged the social fraternity Sigma Pi. It was at one of the fraternity’s parties that he gained his interest in playing the guitar. 

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“There was a guy playing guitar and all the girls were gathering around him,” Buffett recalled to his audience at the Berklee Performance Center in 2019. “He turned out to be my roommate- his name was Johnny Youngblood. I walked up to him and asked him to teach me how to play the guitar. He said, ‘I only know three chords.’ I said, ‘Teach me those chords.’”

After only a year, Buffett transferred to Pearl River Community College, before enrolling at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he graduated in 1969 with a degree in journalism. While attending Southern Mississippi, he met his first wife, Margie Washicheck. They wed in 1969 and were married for three years, before the stress on their marriage led the two to get a divorce.

In 1970, the singer moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he recorded his first album, “Down to Earth’,’ while also working as a journalist at Billboard Music Magazine. In late 1971, Buffett and a colleague, Jeff Walker, traveled to Key West. Buffett liked it so much that he decided to move there in 1972. 

It was while he was living in Key West that Buffett met his second wife, Jane Slagsvol. In an article by People Magazine, Slagsvol “was a student at the University of South Carolina and had gone to the popular vacation destination for her spring break. She met Buffett at the Chart Room bar, and they had an immediate connection.” 

Buffett and Slagsvol were together for over half a decade, before officially tying the knot in August of 1977. Together, they welcomed two daughters, Savannah and Sarah, and adopted a son, Cameron. While the couple did have their ups and downs, People Magazine reported that while Buffett and Slagsvol briefly split up between the early 80s and 1991, they were otherwise inseparable. 

Buffet continued to release music and in 1975, he formed the Coral Reefer Band, who got the opportunity to open for The Eagles in August of 1975. 

The singer released “Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitudes” in January of 1977, which featured his breakthrough song, “Margaritaville.” It peaked at No. 8 on Billboard’s Top 100 Chart. This would be his only single to reach the Top 10. One year later, he released his album, “Son of a Sailor,” featuring the song “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” which reached No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 2003, he partnered with Alan Jackson, another country artist, to record the hit song, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.” This single spent eight weeks at the top of the Hot Country Songs chart following its release. Later that November, Buffett and Jackson were awarded the 2003 Country Music Association Award for Vocal Event of the Year. 

About four years ago, Buffett was diagnosed with Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC), which is a rare and aggressive type of skin cancer. The singer did not let his diagnosis stop him and he continued to produce music and perform throughout his treatment. Buffett performed his last full concert in May of 2023 and made his final live appearance in early July. 

Earlier this month, Buffett lost his battle with MCC, at the age of 76. A statement on his instagram page read, “Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of Sept. 1 surrounded by his family, friends, music, and dogs. He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.” 

In his musical career, the singer released 29 studio albums.His 30th, and final album, “Equal Strain on All Parts,” will be released on Nov. 3, 2023. While Jimmy Buffett is now gone, his legacy and music will continue to live on.

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Lainey Vollmer
Lainey Vollmer, Staff Writer

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