Jimmy Buffett made lives better. He gave people something to look forward to, providing respite from the trials and tribulations of the daily grind through his feel-good attitude and tropical imagery in his music. When he came to town, it was like welcoming a carnival, and everyone from all walks of life traded their suits and ties for grass skirts and Hawaiian shirts for an evening or two.
Born James William Buffett on Christmas Day in 1946, he first worked as a writer for Billboard and later released his debut album in 1970. Pierre Robert saw Jimmy live at the Berkeley Community Theatre, a venue about he size of the Tower here in Philadelphia, while he still lived in San Fransisco. It was a small production, and there were no margaritas involved, but that would all change in 1977 with the release of “Margaritaville.” An empire was created out of this three and a half minute song.
Jimmy went on to sell about 20 million records worldwide. His musical career was just the tip of the entreprenuerial iceberg for him: his Margaritaville franchise cafes, Landshark lager, and tons of merch enhance his beachy brand. His biggest and best endeavor, however, was touring with the Coral Reefer Band. They played the Philly area (usually the Pavilion in Camden) nearly every summer for a stretch of years. It became and annual tradition that was pure joy and escapism.
He passed away at his home on Long Island on September 1st, 2023 at the age of 76. It was later revealed that he was privately battling Merkel cell carcinoma for four years before his death.
His next album is still set for release this fall; Equal Strain On All Parts will arrive on November 3rd. Below is a list of songs that Pierre played on WMMR in honor of Jimmy Buffett and his beloved Parrot Heads. Scroll to the end to see Pierre’s grand outfit for the occasion.