Jimmy Buffett played Palm Springs this past Tuesday! It was my 6th Buffett concert and the first for Blue Frog’s Kelly and Juanita. They were certainly dressed for the occasion as you can see in the accompanying photo! Once at the concert, the Parrotheads were out in profusion.
I always used to question hockey fans who would go to the games wearing their team jerseys. And then I realized I was doing the same type of fanatical thing every time I attended a Jimmy Buffett concert! I would dress in my best Tropical shirt with all the other Parrotheads.
To clarify, a Parrothead is a Jimmy Buffett fan, much like a Deadhead is a Grateful Dead fan. The Parrothead nickname was given to Jimmy’s followers by Timothy B. Schmidt of the Eagles, when he was the bass player for Jimmy’s Coral Reefer Band. In 1985, as the band was entering the parking lot at the Timberwolf Amphitheater in Cincinnati, Schmidt saw the fans having tailgate parties decked out in tropical shirts and parrots on top of their hats. He said that they looked just like the Deadheads, except they had parrots on their heads, so he dubbed them Parrotheads.
That’s what Parrotheads do. We dress up in Tropical shirts, some with hats that have parrots on them, and some with plastic shark fins on the top of the hats, a reference to Jimmy’s song “Fins.” And there are some fans who dress up as characters from Jimmy’s songs. The one that’s the most obvious is Captain Tony from the song “The Last Mango in Paris.” Captain Tony was Tony Tarracino, a saloonkeeper, boat captain, politician, gambler, and storyteller in Key West, Florida. Tony owned Captain Tony’s Saloon, a bar in Key West where Jimmy performed in his early career and as the story goes, was often paid in tequila.
So there you have a basic overview of what a Parrothead is. But how did all of this craziness begin? For me, and I’m guessing a lot of others, it all started with a visit to that mystical and magical place called Margaritaville.
In most of his early songs, Jimmy provided a getaway from life in suburbia in the '70s and everything that came with it. Married, 2.5 kids and a dog, car loans and mortgages to pay, children to feed, a five-day and sometimes a 7 day a week job. He whisked us away from reality to a lifestyle that offered sand, sun, and surf, tropical islands with palm trees, tequila, limes, and margaritas. It truly was the great escape. Jimmy was always decked out in a T-shirt, shorts, and flip flops. The cover of his album A1A sums up the image. Margaritaville sure seemed like a slice of heaven, even if it was only in our minds.
The Buffett movement took off in the early ’70s and by 1989, the first Parrothead Club was founded in Atlanta, Georgia. There are Parrothead Club chapters in the United States, Canada, and Australia. They can be found in 47 U.S. States and 3 Canadian Provinces. And that’s just the official fan club. It doesn’t count the thousands who attend his sold-out concerts on every tour.
As for the man himself, James William Buffett was born on Christmas Day, 1946 in Pascagoula, Mississippi, but spent most of his childhood in Mobile, Alabama which he calls his hometown.
After graduating from college, Buffett worked as a correspondent for Billboard magazine in Nashville. During the late 1960s, he started out as a country music artist and during those years, he could be found busking for tourists in New Orleans. By 1971 he moved to Key West, Florida where he began to establish his beach-bum persona.
He combined country, rock, folk, calypso, and pop music with tropical themes for a sound some call “Gulf and Western” or “Tropical Rock.” He’s recorded 29 studio albums, 9 compilation albums, 14 live albums, 8 specialty albums, and 67 singles over the past 52 years. His big break came with his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes in 1977, which featured what has become his anthem, “Margaritaville.” A song that would go on to define the rest of his career.
But it’s not just music for Jimmy Buffett, he’s become a major corporation. He’s authored half a dozen books, and a musical play called “Escape to Margaritaville.” He has a number of restaurants, was a part owner of 2 baseball teams, and has licensed Margaritaville brand Tequila, footwear, chips, salsa, guacamole, and shrimp. He has his own beer label called Landshark Lager, and has a Casino in Atlantic City. Add to that list, Latitude Margaritaville retirement villages that are planned for Daytona Beach, Hilton Head South Carolina, and Panama City Beach in Florida.
It’s quite a success story, built around an imaginary place called Margaritaville. When you find it, you’ll never want to leave.
Now, where did I put my shaker of salt?
Till next week ...
1 // Wayne at the Jimmy Buffett show in Palm Springs
2 // Heading to Margaritaville with some newbies (L-R: Wayne, Jeri, Juanita, Kelly)
1 // Jamie Lee Curtis launches a campaign urging rock bands to do matinee concerts.
2 // What is the Federal Government up to with the new Bill C-11?
3 // Surrey music festival Fvded in the Park has canceled its 2023 edition amid the soaring costs of the post-lockdown era. The organizer Blueprint founder Alvaro Prol said in an interview that the cost of booking artists had grown by as much as 50%.
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White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2