Iconic surfer, sailor and songwriter Jimmy Buffett has passed away at the age of 76.
“Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs,” reads the announcement on Buffet’s Instagram account. “He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”
Buffett was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi on December 25, 1946. Thanks to the urging of cosmic cowboy Jerry Jeff Walker, he eventually landed in Key West, Florida, where he began to find his musical footing. Famous for his island-inspired songwriting, nobody on the planet has done more for margaritas, rum drinks and tropical escapism. A passionate, core surfer until the end.
Buffett enjoyed searching for surf in his sea plane and enjoying the magic and wonder of the ocean with just a few friends. A supporter of the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center during its formative years, he also played a behind-the-scenes role in the early days of the World Surf League. Believing deeply in the positive power of surfing and the ocean, it wasn’t uncommon for him to drop into surf-related events and play a tune or two with a surf star.
“I met Jimmy in France in 2010 about 8 years or so after my dad died and the first day I told him how much he reminded me of my own father and from that moment on he kind of became a surrogate to me, occasionally calling me from some far off land telling me he missed me and I had to come visit him wherever he was,” remembered 11-time world champion Kelly Slater on Instagram. “He told me life was too short not to take every good opportunity that came along and go live it. I’m not sure I’ve met many people with as positive an attitude who were as welcoming and giving as Jimmy has been to me, just one of the many thousands of friends he’s had around this world.”
Buffett’s first show after the covid lockdown eased was at the Belly Up in Solana Beach in front of an intimate crowd of less than 40 people. “He insisted all of the local lifeguards were there,” remembers Solana Beach Lifeguard Captain Jason Shook. “It was really important to him.”
Buffett’s smile will be missed in the lineup, but thankfully his spirit lives on in the songs he wrote and all the joy he brought to the world through his music. Sending love and light all of Buffet’s family and friends around the world. Good never ends.