Despite his laid-back tunes, Jimmy Buffett has lived a wild life. Over more than four decades as a recording artist, he’s chalked up 29 albums, written several books—three of which have topped the New York Times bestseller list—and launched Margaritaville: a brand of restaurants, hotels, casinos, resorts, vacation clubs, and products. Probably more famous for creating a lifestyle than his top-selling records, Buffett’s concerts are pilgrimages for his fans, inspiring Hawaiian shirts, parking lot tailgates, and song-themed costumes (think “Son of a Son of a Sailor”). All three will doubtless be on show when the singer headlines Rogers Arena on Friday (October 13).
JAMAICA MISTAKE? Buffett has a fractious history with aircrafts. Lovingly restoring a 1950s plane and naming it “Hemisphere Dancer”, the singer often took it out for a rip. A man with many celebrity friends, Buffett once took to the sky with U2’s Bono, Island Records producer Chris Blackwell, and his wife and kids. Shortly after the plane became airborne, Jamaican police opened fire on the group, assuming they were smuggling drugs. Fortunately, no-one was hurt—and the artist got a great song out of the action. Ten years later in 2006, the singer was caught up in another aircraft drug fiasco, this time in France. Upon discovering his prescription medicine pouch in his suitcase, officials saw what they believed to be 100 tabs of ecstasy. Buffett claims that the authorities misidentified a bottle of Foltx (a Vitamin B supplement), and was released with a $300 fine. Apparently, the health pill company labelled their product by stamping it with a heart—which, we agree, seems somewhat suspicious.
CAMEO KING. While he’s made his millions upon millions as a singer, Jimmy Buffett has also been known to pop up on the silver screen. Unlike most musicians who’ve tried their hand at acting—looking at you Mick Jagger, Madonna, and Britney Spears—he’s had the decency to keep his appearances so brief they are the “blink-and-you’ll-miss-him” variety. Even those who can quote vast swaths of Repo Man (“I don’t want no commies in my car. No Christians either”) are probably unaware that Buffett pops up near the end of the film as a sunglasses-sporting FBI character billed as Additional Blonde Agent. (The singer is friends with former Monkee Michael Nesmith, who produced the cult classic). In 1991’s Steven Spielberg-directed Hook, Buffet showed up briefly as a shoe-stealing pirate. Cobb from 1944 had him billed as “The Armless Guy”, and Jurassic World from a couple of years back saw him flash across the screen in a uncredited cameo that IMDB bills as Running Tourist. (He’s not actually running, but instead bolting from a table in an orange shirt with, hilariously, a lime marguerita in each hand). Those who want to know if Buffett actually has something approach basic acting skills can check out his various appearances on the reboot of Hawaii Five-O where he plays helicopter pilot Frank Bama.
PEN TO PAPER. It took Buffett until 1973 for his music career to take off—but before that he was carving a niche in the business as a writer. Working as a music journalist for Billboard Magazine in the late ‘60s, Buffett was the outfit’s Nashville correspondent. “I had gone from just another nobody songwriter who couldn’t get his foot into a music publisher’s door to assistant Southern editor of Billboard,” the singer writes in his memoir, A Pirate Looks at Fifty. “Hell, people took me to lunch, I had business cards. I flew to New York for editorial meetings.” Ahhh, the golden years of media.
A ROCKY START. It’s a testament to Buffett’s enduring popularity that he’ll be headlining a December 31 concert at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena—home of the NHL’s Predators—meaning upwards of 20,000 Parrotheads will join him (and Huey Lewis) in ringing in 2018. That’s a far cry from Buffett’s first New Year’s Eve concert back in ’71, when, legend has it, exactly zero people showed up. This was par for the course at the time, given that Buffett didn’t exactly set the world on fire in his early career. In fact, his debut LP, 1970’s Down to Earth, sold so poorly that his label, Barnaby Records, claimed to have lost the master tapes for what was to have been his second. After Buffett found success in the middle of the decade, those masters miraculously reappeared, and Barnaby belatedly released High Cumberland Jubilee in 1976.
YO HO HO. Thanks to “Margaritaville”, one might logically assume that Jimmy Buffett’s favourite cocktail involves 2 oz. of tequila, 1 oz. triple sec, 1 oz. fresh lime juice, a blender, and shitloads of ice. (Forget going the classic shaken route; as evidenced by the lyrics “That frozen concoction that helps me hang on”, the song celebrates the T.G.I. Friday’s approach.) Sorry, but no margs for Jimmy, even when said cocktail is spiced up with strawberries, raspberries, or pomegranate. It turns out that Buffett is actually more of a rum guy who is enamored with a simple cocktail of his own making. “It’s basically just good Caribbean rum, coconut water—the clear stuff from the coconut that you can now get in Whole Foods; not Coco Lopez—a fresh piece of lime, and lots of ice,” he told Men’s Journal. “That’s it. No bubbles, lots of electrolytes, and no hangover—if you don’t drink a gallon. How do you think all those folks survive Carnival in Trinidad for two weeks?” The most important advice there is “if you don’t drink a gallon”, unless, of course, you’re one of those people who has no problem wasting away in Margaritaville (swapping out, of course, the Jose Cuervo for a bottle of 50-year-old Appleton Estate, Jamaica Independence Reserve, whose $6,630 price tag is about 66 cents to the Patron Saint of Parrotheads.)More