Residents and fans celebrate Jimmy Buffett in Key West, the original Margaritaville
Thousands of Florida Keys residents and visitors gathered on Key West’s Duval Street for a march honoring the acclaimed singer-songwriter, who died on Sept. 1. The city, and its laid-back style, inspired much of his 'tropical rock' music.
Thousands of Florida Keys residents and visitors gathered on Key West’s Duval Street late Sunday afternoon for a march honoring internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, who passed away Sept. 1 at age 76.
Buffett discovered Key West in the early 1970s and its influence is widely credited with inspiring many of his most enduring songs, including the signature hit Margaritaville.
March participants, some sporting the flower leis and offbeat headgear favored by Buffett’s “Parrot Head” fans, traveled up Duval to the Margaritaville Store and Café launched by the singer in the 1980s. There they sang his anthemic Margaritaville led by Florida Keys musician Howard Livingston.
“Margaritaville is totally right here in Key West and Jimmy put it on the map, and every day we live that," said Livingston, a longtime Florida Keys resident who has opened shows for Buffett.
As well as being Buffett’s home during some of his most productive years, Key West was the place where he developed the “tropical rock” style that flavored his music throughout his career. The island’s characters, landmarks and freewheeling lifestyle are referenced repeatedly in his lyrics.
“Any person walking down the street here, ask them how they wound up here, they’ll mention Jimmy Buffett,” Livingston said
Buffett’s portrayal of Key West in song made it a mecca for his fans, who this weekend left tributes at the Margaritaville enclave and at his unmarked Shrimpboat Sound recording studio.
Sunday’s march featured strolling musicians, people carrying large photos of Buffett, and the camaraderie found at his typically sold-out concerts.
Bill Crowley, who marched wearing a colorful parrot cap and flower leis, equated Buffett’s music with Florida Keys living.
“It’s very, very connected — it’s all about this Key West lifestyle that he epitomized with his music,” said Crowley, a Key West resident.
Jimmy Buffett’s final Key West performances took place in February 2023, when he kicked off his “Second Wind Tour” with four unforgettable shows on the island that inspired his celebrated sound.
Buffett died of a rare, aggressive skin cancer, according to a statement on his website. The statement also disclosed where the Margaritaville singer died: at his home in Sag Harbor, New York, near the Hamptons.
He had been fighting the cancer for four years while continuing to perform, the last time making a surprise appearance in Rhode Island in early July, the statement said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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