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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Fans remember Jimmy Buffett, ‘a poet of paradise’


Jimmy Buffett performing in New Orleans in 2006.

By Rebecca Carballo


After it was announced Friday that singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett had died, a wave of tributes came from his lifelong fans, including presidents, actors and at least one sports team.


News of the “Margaritaville” singer’s death was published in a statement on his website; it did not say where he died or specify a cause. Buffett had rescheduled concerts set for this spring, saying he had been hospitalized for unspecified “immediate” health concerns.


Buffett’s music was often described as “Gulf and Western,” and his fans referred to themselves as Parrot Heads and came from all walks of life.


A day after Buffett’s death was announced, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden offered their condolences to Buffett’s family.


“A poet of paradise, Jimmy Buffett was an American music icon who inspired generations to step back and find the joy in life and in one another,” the president said in a statement, adding that Buffett’s songs were witty and wistful, celebrating “a uniquely American cast of characters and seaside folkways.”


Former President Bill Clinton looked back fondly on Buffett’s performance at the White House.

“I’ll always be grateful for his kindness, generosity, and great performances through the years, including at the White House in 2000,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “My thoughts are with his family, friends, and legion of devoted fans.”


Major sports franchises and fellow entertainers also recognized the singer’s death on social media. The NBA’s Miami Heat wrote on X that Buffett had been a longtime season ticket holder and that “Jimmy knew well the power that music and sports has of bringing people together.” And country music singer Toby Keith wrote on social media, “The pirate has passed,” calling Buffett a “tremendous influence on so many of us.”


Lawrence Leritz, an actor and choreographer, met Buffett much earlier in his career, in the 1980s, when Buffett had a small role on the soap opera “All My Children.” At the time Leritz, who played a bellhop and server on the show, didn’t know who Buffett was, and offered him some acting advice.


Leritz recalled that Buffett said: “I’ve never done this before. I’m kind of nervous. Any tips?” He said he advised Buffett to treat the scene like a normal conversation — deliver the lines and genuinely listen to what the other actor is saying. Eventually Leritz pieced together whom he had been talking to, and now, he said, it’s a memory he holds dear.


“I think about him all the time,” Leritz said. “A lot of actors try to act tough, but he was just so sweet and open.”

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