Florida Keys residents remember icon Jimmy Buffett

MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – Jimmy Buffett, one of the Florida Keys’ most notable one-time residents, is being celebrated along the island chain.

Crowds made toasts at the Chart Room, where he played for drinks as an up-an-coming artist.

At the Shrimp Boat Sound Studio, fans left flowers, candles, and even shakers of salt to remember the man known fondly as the Pirate Laureate of the Florida Keys.

“Oh my gosh, Margartitaville? That really did help put Key West on the international travel map, as well as the rest of the Florida Keys,” said tourism spokesperson Andy Newman.

Fifth-generation Key West resident Jack Spottswood has fond memories of Buffett, who at one point was his tenant.

“He rented the apartment right next door to me. And so that’s where you see that on the A1A album,” he said.

Chris Robinson, who still lives in the Lower Keys, said Buffett became a roommate and a good friend.

“Jimmy moved in over top of me,” said Robinson. “That was the best place. There were six houses on the water and we lived in one of them.”

Fred Troxel, who lives in Sugarloaf Key, said Buffett became a longtime fishing friend. He recalled the time Buffett paid for the band at his wedding, and then gave a surprise performance.

“Many of them were shocked that he was there, and the ones that left early because they were, you know, short hitters and didn’t party late,” Troxel recalled. “They were like, ‘oh, damn! I missed that!’”

In the Upper Keys, tributes on Sun 103.1 were streaming all day. Radio host and fishing Captain Matt Bellinger said he felt a special connection to the songwriter.

“Jimmy Buffett laid the blueprint for myself and a lot of the guys and gals who were working on the water. You came for the week and you never went home,” Bellinger said.

“In our hearts and in our minds, and in this state of mind, Jimmy Buffett wil always live on,” Newman said.

A procession to honor the life of Jimmy Buffett is planned for Sunday at 5pm on Duval Street.

About the Author:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.