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Jimmy Buffett

(1946- )

Though famous primarily as a singer and songwriter, Jimmy Buffett is also a best-selling writer. Born December 25, 1946, in Pascagoula, Mississippi, Buffett grew up along the Gulf Coast near Mobile, Alabama. He attended Auburn University and the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1969, before moving to Nashville and embarking upon a career in music—first as a country singer, then, after moving to Key West, Florida, he began to mix country, folk, and pop music styles with tropical and coastal lyrical themes to create a musical sound sometimes called “gulf and western.” He also began to hone a public persona as an easy-going guitar-strumming beach bum, perhaps most famously in his breakthrough hit song “Margaritaville” (from his 1977 album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes).

The song conjures up a fictional place that nonetheless formed a semi-factual setting for Buffett’s first book, Tales from Margaritaville, a collection of short stories and personal anecdotes published in 1989. In the introduction, Buffett hints at a possible location for the town: “Ever since I was a child, I have had a recurring dream of visiting an island; it appears at different locations on the perimeter of the Gulf of Mexico—west of Tortuga, south of Ship Island, or in the middle of Perdido Bay. Somewhere and everywhere, Margaritaville has its origins.” The book spent more than seven months on the New York Times Best Seller list.

Buffett followed the book’s success with two works of juvenile fiction which he co-wrote with his daughter, Savannah Jane: Jolly Mon (1988) and Trouble Dolls (1991). In 1992, he returned to adult fiction with his first novel, Where Is Joe Merchant?, about a rock star who disappears in the Caribbean. Like his first book, this too spent more than seven months on the New York Times Best Seller list.

In 1998, Buffett turned entirely to nonfiction in a memoir titled A Pirate Looks at Fifty, which spent five weeks on the Best Seller list, reaching Number 1 in the second week, a feat which made Buffett one of only six authors (alongside such notables as Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Dr. Seuss) to reach the top spot in both the fiction and nonfiction categories.

Buffett continues both his musical and his writing careers, performing concerts and releasing albums and books. His second novel, A Salty Piece of Land, appeared in 2004, and a new book, Swine Not?, is scheduled for release in November 2007.

John B. Padgett



  • Tales from Margaritaville: Fictional Facts and Factional Fictions. New York: Harcourt, 1989.
  • Where Is Joe Merchant? A Novel Tale. New York: Harcourt, 1992.
  • A Salty Piece of Land. New York: Little, Brown, 2004.
  • Swine Not? New York: Little, Brown, 2007.

Juvenile Fiction:

  • (with Savannah Jane Buffett) Jolly Mon. Illustrated by Lambert Davis. New York: Harcourt, 1988.
  • (with Savannah Jane Buffett) Trouble Dolls. New York: Harcourt, 1991.


  • A Pirate Looks at Fifty. New York: Random House, 1998.



  • Down to Earth, Barnaby, 1972.
  • A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean, Dunhill, 1973.
  • Living and Dying in 3/4 Time, Dunhill, 1974.
  • A-1-A, Dunhill, 1974.
  • Rancho Deluxe (soundtrack), United Artists, 1975.
  • High Cumberland Jamboree, Barnaby, 1976.
  • Havana Daydreamin', ABC, 1976.
  • Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, ABC, 1977.
  • Son of a Son of a Sailor, ABC, 1978 ,
  • Jimmy Buffett Live, You Had to Be There, MCA, 1978.
  • Volcano, MCA, 1979.
  • Somewhere over China, MCA, 1981.
  • Coconut Telegraph, MCA, 1981.
  • One Particular Harbor, MCA, 1983.
  • Riddles in the Sand, MCA, 1984.
  • Last Mango in Paris, MCA, 1985.
  • Songs You Know by Heart: Jimmy Buffett’s Greatest Hits, MCA, 1986.
  • Floridays, MCA, 1986.
  • Hot Water, MCA, 1988.
  • Off to See the Lizard, MCA, 1989.
  • Feeding Frenzy (live album), MCA, 1990.
  • Boats, Beaches, Bars, and Ballads, MCA, 1992.
  • Before the Beach (reissue of Down to Earth and High Cumberland Jamboree), Margaritaville Records, 1993.
  • Fruitcakes, Margaritaville/Polygram, 1994.
  • Barometer Soup, MCA, 1995.
  • Banana Wind, MCA Nashville, 1996.
  • Christmas Island (holiday music), MCA, 1997.
  • Don't Stop the Carnival, Margaritaville/Polygram, 1998.
  • Beach House on the Moon, Margaritaville/Polygram, 1999.
  • Buffett Live: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Mailboat, 1999.
  • Far Side of the World, Mailboat, 2002.
  • Captain America, Madacy, 2002.
  • Live in Auburn, WA, Mailboat, 2003.
  • Live in Irvine, CA, Mailboat, 2003.
  • Live in Las Vegas, Mailboat, 2003.
  • Live in Mountainview, CA, Mailboat, 2003.
  • Live in San Diego, Mailboat, 2003.
  • Live in Vancouver, WA, Mailboat, 2003.
  • License to Chill, Mailboat, 2004.
  • Live in Cincinnatti, OH, 2004.
  • Live in Mansfield, MA, 2004.
  • Rancho Deluxe, 2004.
  • Live at Fenway Park, 2005.
  • Live in Hawaii, 2005.
  • Take the Weather with You, 2006.
  • Hoot (soundtrack), Mailboat Records, 2006



  • Contemporary Musicians. Vol. 4. Gale, 1991. 27-28.
  • Contemporary Popular Writers. Detroit: St. James Press, 1997.
  • Eng, Steve. Jimmy Buffett: The Man from Margaritaville Revealed. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996.
  • Humphrey, Mark, and Harris Lewine. The Jimmy Buffet Scrapbook. Secaucus, N.J.: Carol Pub. Group, 1993, updated 1996.

Articles and reviews:

  • Bowen, Dawn S. “Lookin’ for Margaritaville: Place and Imagination in Jimmy Buffett’s Songs.” Journal of Cultural Geography 16.2 (Spring-Summer 1997): 99-108.
  • Ingersoll, Julie J. “The Thin Line between Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: Meaning and Community among Jimmy Buffett’s Parrotheads.” God in Details: American Religion in Popular Culture. New York: Routledge, 2001. 253-266.
  • Mihelich, John, and John Papineau. “Parrotheads in Margaritaville: Fan Practice, Oppositional Culture, and Embedded Cultural Resistance in Buffett Fandom.” Journal of Popular Music Studies 17.2 (2005): 175-202.

Internet Resources

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How to cite this page (MLA style):

Padgett, John B. "Jimmy Buffett." The Mississippi Writers Page. 5 Aug. 2007. U of Mississippi English Department.