Jimmy Buffet’s death: Joe Biden, Bill Clinton and Elton John lead tributes to ‘Margaritaville’ singer

A host of famous figures are paying tribute to Jimmy Buffett, the “Margaritaville” singer who died on Friday at the age of 76.

A statement posted on Mr Buffett’s social media pages and website late on Friday night read: “Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1, surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs.

“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 say where Buffett died or give a cause of death.

Tributes to Mr Buffett have flooded social media since his death was reported.

US president Joe Biden honoured the singer as “an American music icon” and “a poet of paradise”, while expressing his and First Lady Jill Biden’s condolences to Mr Buffett’s family.

“His witty, wistful songs celebrate a uniquely American cast of characters and seaside folkways, weaving together an unforgettable musical mix of country, folk, rock, pop, and calypso into something uniquely his own,” the White House statement read.

“We had the honor to meet and get to know Jimmy over the years, and he was in life as he was performing on stage – full of goodwill and joy, using his gift to bring people together.

“Jimmy reminded us how much the simple things in life matter – the people we love, the places we’re from, the hopes we have on the horizon.

“Jill and I send our love to his wife of 46 years, Jane; to their children, Savannah, Sarah, and Cameron; to their grandchildren; and to the millions of fans who will continue to love him even as his ship now sails for new shores.”

Jimmy Buffett has died aged 76. (AP Photo/Dave Martin) (AP)
Jimmy Buffett has died aged 76. (AP Photo/Dave Martin) (AP)

Sir Elton John remembered him as a “unique and treasured entertainer” in a heartfelt statement posted on his Instagram stories.

“Jimmy Buffett was a unique and treasured entertainer. His fans adored him and he never let them down,” Sir Elton wrote.

“This is the saddest of news. A lovely man gone way too soon. Condolences to (his wife) Jane and the family from (my husband) David (Furnish) and me.”

Former US president Bill Clinton recalled Mr Buffett’s performance at the White House in 2000 in a tribute shared on X.

Mr Clinton wrote: “Jimmy Buffett’s music brought happiness to millions of people. I’ll always be grateful for his kindness, generosity, and great performances through the years, including at the White House in 2000.

“My thoughts are with his family, friends, and legion of devoted fans.”

Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys tweeted a picture of the singer and wrote: “Love and Mercy, Jimmy Buffett.”

Hollywood actor Miles Teller posted photos of himself with Mr Buffett, and captioned them with famous quotes by the legendary singer such as, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination”.

Acclaimed journalist Dan Rather said Mr Buffett was a performer “who knew who he was and what his fans wanted” and that’s why his legacy “endured”, in a note on X.

He wrote: “Though he left the hard partying to his youth, Jimmy Buffett was able to call upon the joyful feeling of an endless summer that inspires the young, and the young at heart.

“But he also captured the complexities of life, love, and growing older. In a cynical world where the half-life of celebrity can be encompassed in nanosecond news cycles, Buffett endured.

“He knew who he was and what his fans wanted. May he rest in peace.”

Writing on X, former Alabama senator Doug Jones recalled how Mr Buffett serenaded him and his wife Louise in Key West, Florida with his song “Stars Fell on Alabama”.

“He lived life to the fullest and the world will miss him #RIPJimmy,” Mr Jones added.

“Paradise was wherever Jimmy Buffett was,” TV presenter Andy Cohen wrote in an homage on X to “the king of cool”.

The New Orleans Saints also shared a tribute to “an iconic perfomer, a true Saints fan, a dear friend of New Orleans, and the life of the party Jimmy”.

Obit Jimmy Buffett (AP)
Obit Jimmy Buffett (AP)

A message posted on the NFL team’s Twitter page read: “Jimmy will be dearly missed but celebrated forever”.

The Chicago Cubs celebrated Mr Buffett as the first artist to perform at their baseball stadium Wrigley Field in a post on X.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of legendary musician and Cubs fan Jimmy Buffett.

“Thank you for introducing Wrigley Field to the world as a concert venue.

“The Cubs organization sends its sincere condolences to Buffett’s family, friends and fans,” the statement read.

Former Democratic congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell tweet that Key West, which is where the late singer’s musical journey began, “will always be Buffett country”.

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy expressed his grief over Mr Buffett’s death, explaining it felt “like a member of my family died”.

“Should’ve Been a Cowboy” hitmaker Toby Keith noted the “tremendous influence” Mr Buffett had on musicians, adding “the pirate has passed” in a note on the social media platform.

Star Trek actor George Takei reshared the statement from Mr Buffett’s social media pages on his Twitter profile, calling it a “beautiful tribute”.

“Have one with a salt rim for us in the Great After, Jimmy,” he added.

Mr Buffett’s best-known song “Margaritaville” was released on Valentine’s Day in 1977 and quickly took on a life of its own. It evolved into a state of mind for those “wastin’ away,” an excuse for a life of low-key fun and escapism for those “growing older, but not up”.

“There was no such place as Margaritaville,” its creator told the Arizona Republic in 2021.

“It was a made-up place in my mind, basically made up about my experiences in Key West and having to leave Key West and go on the road to work and then come back and spend time by the beach.”

In addition to “Margaritaville”, other popular songs by Mr Buffett – all on a similar sun- and cocktail-drenched theme – include “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” and “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.”

Buffett was nominated for two Grammy awards and won numerous Country Music Awards.

He released over two dozen albums and played countless concerts over six decades, while the “Margaritaville” concept exploded into a lucrative lifestyle brand that eventually included everything from hotels and restaurants to pool floats and frozen shrimp dishes.

Music critics were never very kind to the singer or his catalogue, but his legions of fans – called “Parrotheads” – regularly turned up for his concerts wearing toy parrots, cheeseburgers, sharks and flamingos on their heads, leis around their necks and loud Hawaiian shirts.

Mr Buffett is survived by his wife, Jane, his daughters, Savannah and Sarah, and son, Cameron.

Additional reporting on wires