Key West Honors Late Singer Jimmy Buffett with Memorial Procession
September 03, 2023 • KW Tourist
Key West, Florida commemorated the life of the late singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett with a grand procession on Duval Street. Taking place late Sunday afternoon, the event attracted thousands of local residents and visitors alike. Buffett, known for his enduring contributions to the music world, passed away on September 1 at the age of 76.
The musician discovered Key West in the early 1970s, and the locale had a profound influence on his work. He is perhaps best known for his iconic hit "Margaritaville," a song that encapsulates the spirit of the Florida Keys. Participants of the march were seen sporting flower leis and whimsical headgear, signature attire for Buffett's "Parrot Head" fanbase.
The procession concluded at the Margaritaville Store and Café, an establishment launched by Buffett himself in the 1980s. Once gathered, the crowd sang the legendary "Margaritaville," led by Howard Livingston, a Florida Keys musician and a longtime resident who had the privilege of opening shows for Buffett in the past. "Key West is essentially Margaritaville, and it was Jimmy who put it on the map. We live that reality every day," Livingston remarked.
Buffett’s relationship with Key West extended beyond the superficial. It was not only his home during some of his most creatively fruitful years but also the incubator for his unique "tropical rock" musical style. The island's landmarks, characters, and lifestyle frequently appeared in Buffett’s lyrical storytelling. Livingston noted that anyone encountered on the streets of Key West would likely cite Buffett as an inspiration for being there.
Buffett's musical portrayal of Key West turned it into a pilgrimage site for his fans. Over the weekend, tributes poured in at the Margaritaville complex and at his discreet Shrimpboat Sound recording studio. The Sunday procession itself was a lively affair featuring strolling musicians, individuals carrying large photographs of the late artist, and the sort of camaraderie typically reserved for Buffett’s sold-out concerts. Bill Crowley, a resident of Key West who participated in the march wearing a colorful parrot cap and flower leis, said that Buffett's music and the Florida Keys lifestyle were inextricably linked.
Jimmy Buffett’s last performances in Key West occurred in February 2023, as part of his "Second Wind Tour." He played four unforgettable shows on the very island that had inspired much of his celebrated career, leaving an indelible legacy in the place he called home.