(AP/WJW) — All the world was “Margaritaville” on Saturday, from Key West to New York City and beyond, as legions of fans (famous and not) mourned the passing of beach-bum balladeer Jimmy Buffett at the age of 76.
Buffett’s eponymous hit song has long been the anthem of Florida’s Key West, where Buffett once lived and built his enduring legacy.
“Everybody equates that song with our city,” said Clayton Lopez, a Key West city commissioner. “I mean, when you say Margaritaville, you’re talking about the city of Key West.”
The community planned a remembrance Sunday along Duval Street, home to some of Key West’s most well-known eateries and music venues, including the Chart Room, a dive bar where Buffett sang early in his career.
“He’s doing another show now, but it’s in the sky,” said Jimmy Weekley, who owns Fausto, a restaurant that is one of Key West’s landmarks.
Buffett’s fandom was widespread, and tributes poured in Saturday.
President Joe Biden sent condolences to Buffett’s family “and to the millions of fans who will continue to love him even as his ship now sails for new shores.” Former President Bill Clinton wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that Buffett’s “music brought happiness to millions of people.” Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys wrote: “Love and Mercy, Jimmy Buffett,” and former Beatle Paul McCartney even took to Twitter, writing a long goodbye to an old friend:
It seems that so many wonderful people are leaving this world, and now Jimmy Buffett is one of them. I’ve known Jimmy for some time and found him to be one of the kindest and most generous people. I remember once on holiday when I had forgotten to bring my guitar and was itching to play. He said he would get me one of his, but I said, ‘I’m left-handed’. So, Jimmy had his roadie restring one of his guitars which he loaned me for the duration of the holiday. He then followed this act of generosity by giving me my own beautiful left-handed guitar that had been made by one of his guitar-making pals. It’s a beautiful instrument, and every time I play it now it’ll remind me of what a great man Jimmy was. He had a most amazing lust for life and a beautiful sense of humour. When we swapped tales about the past his were so exotic and lush and involved sailing trips and surfing and so many exciting stories that it was hard for me to keep up with him. Right up to the last minute his eyes still twinkled with a humour that said, ‘I love this world and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it’. So many of us will miss Jimmy and his tremendous personality. His love for us all, and for mankind as a whole. Last, but not least, is his songwriting and vocal ability. If someone made an interesting remark he repeated it in his gorgeous Louisiana drawl and said, ‘That’s a good idea for a song’. Most times it didn’t take too long for that song to appear. I was very happy to have played on one of his latest songs called ‘My Gummy Just Kicked In’. We had a real fun session and he played me some of his new songs. One, in particular, I loved was the song, ‘Bubbles Up’. And I told him that not only was the song great but the vocal was probably the best I’ve heard him sing ever. He turned a diving phrase that is used to train people underwater into a metaphor for life when you’re confused and don’t know where you are just follow the bubbles – they’ll take you up to the surface and straighten you out right away. So long, Jim. You are a very special man and friend and it was a great privilege to get to know you and love you. Bubbles up, my friend. Love, Paul