After years of being asked if they were related, Warren Buffett and Jimmy Buffett submitted to a DNA test for 23andMe, a genetic testing company. The result? The two well-known geniuses are related, but only by wealth.
The senior Buffett has amassed a fortune of $82 billion, while the younger Buffett is worth a “mere” $550 million. While the “Oracle of Omaha” made his billions by investing wisely, the Mayor of Margaritaville claimed his gavel by chance.
Buffett explained the origin of his song Margaritaville to Southern Living magazine:
“I was with some friends in a Mexican restaurant on a hot day in Austin, Texas. We had a
couple of margaritas, and they really tasted good. Afterward, I was heading back home to Key West. I wrote the song in about six minutes, driving down the Overseas Highway.”
“That was a good six minutes.”
James William Buffett, Jr., was born on Christmas Day, 1946, in Pascagoula, Miss. He
grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he went to a Catholic school and played trombone in the
school band. After graduation, the restless Buffett spent time at two other colleges before
ending up at the University of Southern Mississippi. There, he took up the guitar (to attract the girls) and eventually joined a bar band.
During his college years, Buffet and his bandmates endured hardscrabble times in
a trailer. As he told National Public Radio (NPR), “We were living hand to mouth daily, and it came to the point where we couldn’t pay both the gas bill and the electric bill. So, we only
paid the electric bill, and we spent money on electric blankets, and we lived with
extension cords and electric blankets while we rehearsed.”
Buffett earned a history degree but never used it, instead toiling for years as the
first mate on a Key West yacht. In time, he moved to Nashville, where he hoped
for country music stardom that never materialized.
Buffett didn’t really hit his groove until 1972, when he relocated to Key West and began playing local bars while projecting an easygoing “beach bum” persona.
In 1974, Buffett scored a Top 30 hit with the plaintive Second Avenue. It would
take three more years before he could come up with another winner. Within his
sixth album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, Buffett’s self-proclaimed
“drunken Caribbean rock ‘n’ roll” style found success with Margaritaville.
The catchy ditty would worm its way into the collective American conscience and
never depart. Thanks to Buffett’s innate business savvy and dedication to his
career, that single song provided the motivation he needed to shift his career into overdrive.
Then, in 1978, the songster and poet released his Son of a Son of a Sailor album—it skyrocketed to the Top 10. Buffett had composed
the title track about his seagoing grandfather, James Delaney Buffett, Sr., who had a tremendous influence on his life. Forty years later, the LP still resonates as the basis for Buffett’s current Son of
a Son of a Sailor, High Tide Tour.
Since the late 1980s, Buffett has written five best-selling books, opened a chain of restaurants, developed a line of beach clothing, started his own record label called—no surprise here — Margaritaville, and developed the Broadway jukebox musical
Escape to Margaritaville.
He also partnered with Minto Communities to bring three Latitude Margaritaville active
adult communities to Florida and South Carolina—places where you can “grow older, but not up.”
Today Buffett lives with Jane, his second wife, and enjoys sailing, piloting his plane and
supporting environmental causes.
His devoted followers are known as Parrotheads, a name coined at a 1985 Ohio concert.
There, Buffett commented about the many audience members wearing Hawaiian shirts and parrot hats, who followed him from show to show much like the Deadheads did with the Grateful Dead.
Buffett sees the Parrothead culture as an indulgence in escapism. “It’s fun, and it’s getting away from the rigors of real life,” he said on NPR. “These days, I think we need it more than ever.”
On Dec. 13, his Coral Reefer Band will provide backup as the son of a son of a sailor wows the crowd with such iconic tunes as Cheeseburger in Paradise, Come Monday and Fins.
The chance of hearing a song about drinking margaritas? A pretty safe bet.