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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Jimmy Buffett died of rare form of skin cancer


Jimmy Buffett died of a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma.

By Ben Sisario


Jimmy Buffett died of skin cancer at his home in Sag Harbor, New York, on Long Island, according to a statement on the singer-songwriter’s website.


After Buffett died Friday at 76, his site announced the death but did not give a cause or specify where he died. In an update over the weekend, the website said that he had Merkel cell carcinoma for four years. A rare and aggressive form of skin cancer, Merkel cell is diagnosed only about 2,500 times a year in the United States, and until recent years it had carried a life expectancy of five months.


Buffett’s 1970s hits like “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” which mingled country-rock with bits of calypso melodies and had wry lyrics about the carefree life of boating and loafing at beachside bars, made him a cult hero on a huge scale.


He sold at least 23 million albums in the United States alone, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, on par with Jimi Hendrix and the Beastie Boys. And Buffett’s annual tours — in which he usually appeared barefoot, in a comfy T-shirt or Hawaiian button-down — were hugely successful, drawing millions of fans who sang along, drank prodigiously and called themselves Parrot Heads.


Buffett was one of pop music’s most successful and ambitious business owners, building a huge empire on the brand of good times and island escapism that he sang about in his songs. That included Margaritaville restaurants and resorts, footwear, drink mixes and a 2018 Broadway jukebox musical, “Escape to Margaritaville.”


This year, Forbes estimated his net worth at $1 billion, with $570 million attributed to his tours and recording and $140 million in planes, homes and his shares in Berkshire Hathaway — the holding company founded by multibillionaire investor Warren Buffett, who had been a longtime friend.

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