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'Margaritaville' to 'It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere': Cheers to Jimmy Buffett

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If you have ever loudly sang the following words with a group of people: 
“Wastin' away again in Margaritaville
Searchin' for my long lost shaker of salt. Salt, salt, salt!”

Tailgating in the '80s

College friends Tracy Rohm Blamphin and Kim Reichert tailgating at the Meriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland in the '80s.

or gone to a concert wearing a Hawaiian shirt, leis, flip flops, a cheeseburger hat, fake parrot, and put your hand sideways on the top of your head to make a landshark fins sign while dancing along to a jovial beach-shorts wearing, barefooted guitar-playing singer backed up by the steel-drum-playing Coral Reefer Band, you smile when you hear the name Jimmy Buffet (1946-2023). 

Loved by millions, especially his devoted “Parrothead” fans, the legendary tropical island beach-inspired lyrics songwriter and performer passed away from skin cancer on Sept. 1 at age 76.  

Over his five-decade career, fans have loved his songs including Cheeseburger in Paradise, Come Monday, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, Who's The Blonde Stranger, Fins, Pencil Thin Mustache, Volcano, A Pirate Looks at Forty, and duet with Alan Jackson It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere. Here, Buzz neighbors share some of their favorite Jimmy Buffett memories. 

80s Buffet Concert

Tracy Rohm Blamphin and Kim Reichert, wearing Hawaiian pants, holding a sign they made for an '80s Jimmy Buffet concert at the Patriot Center (now EagleBank Arena) in Virginia.

“I loved Jimmy Buffett!” Kim Reichert gushed. “I grew up in Columbia, Maryland. We had a pavilion like the one in the Woodlands that was walking distance from my house.” 

While Kim was in college, and for a few years after, Buffett would play there every summer, two to three nights in a row. “My friends and I would go to all of the concerts. Mostly on the lawn, which was a crazy party, but sometimes in the seats. One year my husband Chris and I sat in the second row! That was the best!” 

After they moved to Bellaire, Chris and Kim went to see Buffett most years in the Woodlands. Kim guesses that, over the years, she’s enjoyed about 40 Jimmy Buffett concerts.

A recent photo of Kim Reichert with a Jimmy Buffet concert banner that she and a friend made in the '80s. The banner is still hanging in her Bellaire garage today. Here, she is also wearing the same Hawaiian shirt she wore to that concert.

In 1987, Kim and her friend, Tracy Rohm Blamphin, made a banner to take to two different Buffett concerts. They painted a sheet with the words “I Gotta Go Where it’s WARM“ (a lyric from Boat Drinks) and decorated it with pictures of a palm tree, a parrot, a lime-garnished frozen margarita, and a shaker of salt. Thirty-six years later Kim laughs, “I still have the banner. It’s hanging on the wall in my garage!”

Another lifelong Jimmy Buffett concert attender, Karen Fernbach, shared, “I've been in mourning all weekend! I'm flooded with memories of all the fun JB concerts I've been to with all the special people I shared these memories with at different times of my life with childhood friends, college friends, first work friends and grown adult friends who all shared the love of his music! It's been a journey.”

Karen Fernbach, John Madden, Leslie Madden, Don Fernbach,

Friends Karen Fernbach, John Madden, Leslie Madden, and Don Fernbach ready to put their “Fins Up” at a 1995 Jimmy Buffet concert.

The day after Jimmy Buffett passed away, Karen’s college roommate, Leslie Madden, sent a text reflecting on their fun Buffett concerts adventures over the years, including one in the ’90s they went to with Karen’s husband, Don, and Leslie’s husband, John, at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. 

“Leslie brought a shark floaty with her and somehow talked the gate people into letting her keep it. When we got inside there were Gumby floaties everywhere. Don took the inflatable shark to go attack the Gumbies. With Don in the lead, all the other people who had taken shark floaties followed and descended on the poor Gumbies who lost the battle. Leslie’s shark never made it back, but we hope whoever ended up with it took it to many more Jimmy Buffet concerts. We are Parrotheads forever!”

Don and Karen Fernbach

Don and Karen Fernbach embrace each other and an inflatable shark before a 1995 Jimmy Buffet concert.

West University’s Ken Schmitt plays electric guitar for local band, Vital Signs, and is an avid concertgoer. 

“In 1986, when I was 18, I won tickets from a local AM radio station to see Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band at AstroWorld’s Southern Star Amphitheatre. It’s the only ‘rock’ concert I’ve ever been to with my dad, Ken Schmitt Sr. It is definitely a cool memory and bonding experience at a time when we probably weren’t our closest with all my rebellion. I chose to bring him to help bring us closer.”

Elizabeth Groff has been happily listening to Jimmy Buffett songs with her dad since the ’70s when she was a young girl sailing the Mississippi Gulf Coast waters just like Buffett. Her dad, who loves to sail, is a huge Buffett fan. 

Elizabeth fondly reflects on sailing trips with her father out of Gulfport, Mississippi. “The minute we pulled out of the harbor, my father would put a Jimmy Buffet 8-track tape in the player. When his favorite song Son of a Son of a Sailor came on, we would all sing along.” 

She appreciates the way Buffett’s laid-back music captures the American dream of kicking back on a beach having fun, visiting with friends, and laughing.

“His music is timeless and crosses generations. All our family are fans: my dad in his 80s, me in my 50s, and our sons in their 20s. Some of my son's friends wore Hawaiian shirts to last weekend’s Aggie football game in honor of Jimmy Buffett.” 

Elizabeth will always enjoy how Buffett’s music takes her back to special times including seeing him live at Mud Island in Memphis and at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands.

Jimmy Buffett casette and tequila

Cheers to Jimmy Buffett, margaritas, Hawaiian shirts, and his long-lasting legacy. (Photo: Karen Vine Fuller) 

The world is remembering and celebrating Jimmy Buffet and the many ways his feel-good music, thoughtful lyrics, and energetic live performances touched people’s hearts and inspired them to live life to the fullest, enjoying the fun along the way. 

As Jimmy Buffett said: 
“It takes no more time to see the good side of life than to see the bad.”
“Wrinkles only go where the smiles have been.”
“If life gives you limes, make margaritas!”

Share your Buffett memories in the comment section below. 

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