Attribution: U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Michael W. Pendergrass, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

While Palm Beach Mourns the Passing of its Beloved Beach Bum Jimmy Buffett, His Legacy Lives On

South Florida Salutes Jimmy Buffett with Parties and Music Across the State

This weekend musicians and concert crowds flecked with Hawaiian shirts along South Florida’s waterfront communities will likely be sending up double-fisted, toke’n Margarita salutes and singing along to the hit songs of their late, great, favorite musician, Jimmy Buffett. Here in the sunshine state, clubs, theaters, auditoriums, arenas, amphitheaters, casinos, and festivals are rapidly placing Buffet tributes on the schedule. Literally, an impromptu statewide jam.

Clematis by Night, West Palm Beach’s weekly waterfront get-together, will be dubbed “Clematis by Night Celebrates Jimmy Buffett,” and on the same night in Delray Beach, a Luau Party & Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band will be happening at THRōW Social.

Piper’s Angel’s Foundation, a charity that raises money for cystic fibrosis and known for its annual paddle board crossing from the Bahamas to Lake Worth Beaches expect a big turnout for their Jimmy Buffett Memorial Paddle Out Ceremony and Tribute on Lake Worth Beach with afterparty featureing live music at Bennies on the Oceanwalk.

A Rooftop Live event at the Hard Rock in Hollywood will feature its tribute to Jimmy Buffett; in Coconut Grove there will be a day long Craft Beer and Jimmy Buffett Celebration. In Naples, it’s Tavern By the Bay’s Parrothead Party and a ten-night Cheeseburger in Paradise Tribute Event.

And that’s just for starters. Jimmy Buffet tribute events are already popping up on venue rosters far into 2024.

The Margaritaville Man was actually a High Stakes Ecologist and Money Making Brand Shark

While Palm Beachers mourn the passing of one of its most famous celebrities, it’s easy to see why the town embraced Jimmy Buffett as one of its own. His image and hit songs were a virtual beacon for an easy breezy lifestyle fortified with frozen cocktails on sun-drenched ocean coasts.

But what you may not know is that the waster in Margaritaville was also an environmental activist and a killer money-making shark. Despite the beach bum aesthetic and carefree persona, Mr. Buffett, who passed away this month at the age of 76, was also a very savvy businessman and billion-dollar brand builder.

According to the Palm Beach Daily News, Mr. Buffett loved Palm Beach and owned several houses there over the years, including three on the same Ocean-block estate. His last Palm Beach Residence, side-by-side 1926 townhouses with Key West style architecture, was Mr. Buffett’s personal retreat-and-art studio.

Palm Beach and Florida Wildlife Protector

The Palm Beach community knew him as a hands-on major player for ecological causes. He was a board member of the Everglades foundation, an important organization in South Florida dedicated to saving Florida’s unique “River of Grass,” and teamed up with Former Florida Governor, Bob Graham to found the Save the Manatee Club which has raised millions for conservation efforts. He also supported the state’s Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory, the Quiksilver Foundation and Key West’s Reef Relief organization.

A Forbes Billionaire Club Member

In April, Forbes added the late musician to its billionaires list and put him on that month’s cover, calling him the “beach bum billionaire.” As reported in Forbes, the iconic singer’s amazing success even attracted the attention of that other famous Buffett, prominent investor and the world’s fifth-richest person, Warren Buffett (no relation), who told Forbes, “Tell Jimmy to keep me in his will!”

After building up an impressive discography of hit songs, Buffett spun those songs into branding gold. But how did this beloved beach bum go from itinerant musician to a branding powerhouse known for his billion-dollar portfolio of restaurants, resorts, real estate, and branded merchandise?

From Guitar-playing Singer to Lifestyle Guru to Hospitality Emperor

After his failed attempt at a country music career, Buffett fled Nashville for Key West, Florida, where he infused a country aesthetic with calypso, rock, pop, and folk to create his own unique sound. Buffett’s big break came with the hit single “Margaritaville,” off his 1977 album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes. The song struck a chord with people who loved the idea of trading a nine to five commute for swaying hammocks and warm ocean breezes, becoming a salt life anthem. The album went platinum, and soon thereafter he had a loyal and devoted fanbase who dubbed themselves Parrotheads.

Years followed, and so did the hits. “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” spent eight weeks at the top of Billboard’s country charts. As the Jimmy Buffett movement snowballed, so did merchandise knock-offs. Fans were wearing t-shirts bought from Key West stores, sold without his approval and with his name misspelled. In 1985 he took the reins of his personal brand by teaming up with longtime friend Donna “Sunshine” Smith to open the first Margaritaville t-shirt shop in Key West. That same year, Buffett founded Margaritaville Holdings LLC, headquartered in Orlando, as a promotional side business, through which he sold concert tickets and merchandise.

The enterprise soon expanded to include restaurants and resort destinations, as well as Margaritaville tequila and cocktail mixes and just about anything else Buffett could put his brand on. Then he partnered with John Cohlan, an investor who specialized in fast-food chains. Cohlan became the CEO of Margaritaville Holdings and transformed it into a global licensing operation that boasted $2.2 billion in sales in 2022. Today, the hospitality empire that was founded to sell concert tickets and t-shirts has locations throughout the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean.

Buffett also boasted an impressive private real estate portfolio including six multimillion-dollar homes in Key West, Palm Beach, Sag Harbor, New York, and his Caribbean home estate in St. Barts. Branded Latitude Margaritaville real estate includes over 55 gated communities.

Today there are 23 Margaritaville restaurants scattered throughout the U.S. and Canada and the Margaritaville brand also includes over 30 vacation resorts spread across Manhattan, Palm Springs, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. The company’s latest venture is Margaritaville at Sea, two-night, three-day Caribbean cruises.

Florida Bar Board Certified in Real Estate Law, Attorneys David E. Klein, Esq. and Guy Rabideau at, have the expertise and experience you need to ensure that your interests are protected throughout your real estate transactions across the Palm Beaches and throughout Florida. Contact Rabideau Klein to discuss the legal implications of your next commercial or residential property transaction.

Photo Attribution: U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Michael W. Pendergrass, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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