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The death of Jimmy Buffett

Life and death of the American songwriter Jimmy Buffett.
Tribute to Jimmy Buffett when he passed.
Tribute to Jimmy Buffett when he passed.

On Friday, Sept. 1, James William Buffett was pronounced dead. 

Born on Dec. 25, 1946, Buffett was exposed to sailing by his grandfather and grew to fall in love with it, referring to himself as a pirate. Buffett began his songwriting career in 1964, singing on street corners while he got his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1969 from the University of Southern Mississippi. 

According to Buffett, he used to say that the job of singing for a living was descended from being a court jester. Buffett’s music increased in traction with his hit single, “Margaritaville” in 1977.

After the release of “Margaritaville,” Buffett went on to create other songs such as “Cheeseburger in Paradise” in 1978, and collaborated with the Zac Brown Band to release “Knee Deep” in 2011. But by far, “Margaritaville” became the staple for Buffett. “Margaritaville” became so popular that a series of Margaritaville-themed restaurants appeared across the US, and they sold a variety of themed merchandise and alcohol.

The Margaritaville brand name became so popular that it made cameos in media, such as the 2015 film “Jurassic World” and an episode of “South Park.”

Aside from being a songwriter, Buffett was also an author. He wrote many biographies about himself, such as “A Pirate Looks at Fifty,” which was released in 1998, earning the title of #1 Bestseller from the New York Times. The book itself was about his 50th birthday, and alluded to his song “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” which was released in 1975. 

Aside from his biographies, Buffett also wrote works of fiction. He wrote “Where is Joe Merchant?” which centered around the main character Frank Bama and his ex-girlfriend Trevor Kane. He also wrote the story “Trouble Dolls” in 1991, a story about a young girl named Lizzy who teams up with her dog, a magic macaw, and her Guatemalan ‘trouble dolls’ to save her father from a ferocious storm.

Buffett had a form of cancer known as Merkel cell carcinoma, or Merkel cell skin cancer. It will show up on skin with similar traits as that of a cyst or pimple, but while those may feel painful, a Merkel cell carcinoma will not be painful. 

According to doctors, it may be related to how much sun people are exposed to throughout their lives. Buffett had apparently been living with Merkel cell carcinoma for four years before his passing, according to the official Jimmy Buffett website.

Buffett’s family has stated that instead of donating flowers to his funeral, they’d like people to donate to his foundation “Singing for Change,” which seeks out nonprofit organizations to support communities in their time of need. Even if Buffett is no longer with us, he will continue to live on through his music and his stories. After all, it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere.

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About the Contributor
Canan Babcock
Canan Babcock, Staff Writer
Canan is a senior at Oakmont High School. This is his second round of being in journalism since early January this year. They love reading, writing and gaming in their free time but he also enjoys going on walks to help clear his mind. Navigating through the world will never be an easy thing, but they will chart it nonetheless. His interests leak into his daily life often and he's never afraid to give an infodump about the things they are interested in.

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