American singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, best known for his 1977 hit “Margaritaville,” has died at age 76, according to a statement on his website.
“Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs,” the statement said.
“He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”
The statement did not include a cause of death.
Buffett’s classic chill-out anthem “Margaritaville,” about beachfront living with a drink in hand, spent 22 weeks on the Billboard chart, and helped launch his decades-long music career and a business empire.
Known as the “Mayor of Margaritaville,” he released nearly 30 studio albums of country, folk and tropical tunes, and also launched a line of resorts, restaurants and retail stores that capitalized on his laid-back, escapist image.
Born December 25, 1946, in the US state of Mississippi and raised in Alabama, Buffett began playing guitar in college and later started performing on the streets and in the clubs of New Orleans, according to his website.
He released his first record “Down to Earth” in 1970, and a year later traveled to Key West, Florida, a place that became synonymous with Buffett’s paradise-themed music and lifestyle brands.
Buffett also penned bestselling books, appeared in movies and on television, and had a brief Broadway run with his musical “Escape to Margaritaville.”
But his signature song — and its refrain: “Wastin’ away again in Margaritaville, searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt” — is what his legions of fans and beach holidaymakers remember most.
“There are people out there looking for a good time for a few days a year,” Buffett told Rolling Stone magazine in 1996, referring to his fans, known as “Parrotheads.”
“We come to town and we’re the carnival or the Mardi Gras. People blow off steam and then go back and become basically law-abiding citizens,” he said.
“But to see them on those two days, you’d go, ‘My God, this is the most drunk and boisterous maniac crowd you ever saw!’”