There have been good days, very few bad days and many, many going half mad days in my life because of him.
Jimmy Buffett tossed out his anchor on Sept. 1, 2023. Ironic that this Labor Day Weekend show was his final set. For 76 years he was living life like a song and so am I as a result of him and his music. I’m kind of in a state of shock. You don’t ever think your heroes are going to die. You think they are going to live forever, that they will always be there for us, doing what they do into eternity. But there is Jimmy, one hand on the starboard rail, waving back at all us Parrotheads.
I have been to some 70 Jimmy Buffett shows. I first saw him in college, at the University of Alabama. It was my first concert ever and when Jimmy said he liked playing at Alabama because of the surf everyone looked around and said “what is he talking about,” because the nearest ocean is 200 miles away. But then, as Buffett did so well in playing to the audience, he then said “there’s just something about that Crimson Tide!” The place erupted and I became a fan right then and there.
Little did I know at the time that I would wind up leading party buses to Buffett shows at Irvine Meadows in L.A., traveling to Hawaii and Las Vegas to see him (more than once) and attending concerts during work trips. One year, I saw him seven times in four different states.
I cannot fathom, my friends, what my life would be like without him.
The friendships I have formed as a result of Jimmy Buffett music and his concerts – I’m talking to you, Gary Buffett and The Blonde! – and those that I became even better friends with, people like Luau Larry, are priceless. Luau turned out to be that chum with a bottle of rum and we have wound up drinking it quite a few nights. Especially at Buffett shows. There are also countless – at least 70 – incredibly fun times, smiles and laughs I have had because of him. And I’m hardly alone.
I have to admit I am tearing up a bit as I write this post, listening to Radio Margaritaville and hearing the words of his songs. Often, I use his lyrics to steer me in the right direction and like the person who really got me into Buffett, Lazman, I often quote Jimmy in regular conversations with people. There’s a lot of life’s analogies in those lyrics. I’m always “growing older but not up” when it’s my birthday, for example.
At first, I thought it was silly to cry about someone I had never met. But then a friend called me balling and I knew it was okay. As long it was for Jimmy Buffett.
My fondest memories of Jimmy Buffett are those party buses, tailgate parties/concerts at Irvine Meadows. As any Parrothead knows, Buffett’s shows were less about Jimmy and his Coral Reefer band playing on stage than the buildup to it. Motorhomes would roll in with the occupants setting up pop-up tiki bars for thousands of people dressed in tropical attire who walked up and down the rows of churning blenders, turned prize wheels for shots and did the limbo. Football fans can relate but Buffett tailgate parties were even better, largely because there was no other side. Everyone was on the same team. Plus Buffett only came to town once a year. Now there will be no more tailgate parties, no more Buffett shows.
Just a few months before Jimmy Buffett died of lymphoma as a result of having skin cancer, I saw what turned out to be his last concert. It was in San Diego.
Jimmy Buffett even played – for free! – on the sand in Hermosa Beach, mere steps from PubClub.com’s World Headquarters at the time. Talk about a life moment, wow.
I actually discovered the tailgate parties at Irvine Meadows. A co-worker at the time mentioned she was going and Lazman and I should meet her there. When she said she was getting there at Noon for a show that didn’t start until 8 p.m., Lazman and I said “what!?” She said “oh it’s great, with all the motorhomes, campers and partying.” We had no idea but we learned in a hurry. Within the first hour, I turned to LazMan and said “from now on we’re taking a party bus!” Thanks for that, Barbara.
In subsequent years, I took great joy in being a mentor to “Buffett virgins,” as first-time Buffett concert goers were known, on the party bus.
The morning the news of his death broke, my phone starting going crazy – like a girl on Caroline Street – with messages from friends because they know how much Buffett and his music means to me. All across the country people were crying as if they had lost a family member. He meant that much to so many people.
So thanks, Jimmy, for all the great times, the friendships, the music, the moments and especially the concerts and tailgate parties. It has indeed been a lovely cruise.
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