5 Things to Know About Jimmy Buffett

Jimmy Buffett was known for his laid-back music that earned him fans all around the world. With more than 30 albums to his name, Buffett’s career was defined by such hits as “Margaritaville” and “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” as well as collaborations with Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney and others.

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Buffett passed away at the age of 76 on September 1 after living for four years with a rare form of skin cancer, but his beloved catalog of music lives on. Check out five things you didn’t know about Buffett.

1. He worked briefly as a music journalist

Just before he broke as a solo artist with his debut album, Down to Earth, in 1970, Buffett was working in another sector of the music industry as a journalist. Billboard reports that Buffett worked as a correspondent for the publication for a year from 1969-1970. In his brief tenure as a journalist, Buffett landed a prominent story when he allegedly broke the news that bluegrass duo Flatt and Scruggs broke up in 1969.

2. He played trombone

The singer always had a guitar in hand during his live shows, but the trombone was actually the first instrument that Buffett learned how to play. While attending high school at St. Ignatius School in Mobile, Alabama, the future superstar joined the school band where he played trombone. He showed off some of his trombone skills during an appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden.

3. He worked in a shipyard

Buffett once stated that he came from “a long line of sailors,” so it’s no surprise that ocean culture was a prominent theme in his music. But long before he was topping charts with his beachy tunes, Buffett actually worked in a shipyard as an electrician and welder when he was in college. “I come from a long line of sailors,” he told Boat International in 2021. “My grandfather was a sailing ship captain from Newfoundland who moved to the States. My dad sailed and was a marine engineer. I grew up sailing and was a child of the shipyard.” 

[RELATED: 5 of the Most Colorful Jimmy Buffett Lyrics]

4. He had a commercial pilot license 

Music wasn’t the Mississippi native’s only passion. In college, a friend of his at the University of Southern Mississippi was a pilot which sparked his interest in aviation. This hobby turned into Buffett’s dream of getting his pilot’s license by his 40th birthday, a goal he accomplished when he was 39. According to a bio on a fansite, Buffett obtained a “Commercial Pilot License with ratings for multi-engine land and sea aircraft and an instrument rating for flying in clouds and low weather.” His Albatross seaplane is on display at Margaritaville in Orlando, Florida.

5. He wrote songs for film and TV

When he wasn’t writing his own hits, Buffett had a hand in writing several songs for film and TV. He co-wrote “I Don’t Know (Spicoli’s Theme)” for the Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack, as well as the theme song for the 1993 CBS series Johnny Bago, and “Hello, Texas” for the cult classic, Urban Cowboy. He also wrote the soundtrack for the 2006 film, Hoot, starring Oscar winner Brie Larson.

Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

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