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Yacht rocker and Pascagoula native Jimmy Buffett dies at 76

Photo from Jimmy Buffett/Facebook

Famous yacht rocker and Mississippi native Jimmy Buffett has passed away at the age of 76.

According to a statement posted to social media, the “Margaritaville” singer died peacefully surrounded by his family, friends, music, and dogs on Friday night.

“He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many,” the statement read.

An official obituary released on the artist’s website said Buffet had been “fighting Merkel Cell Skin Cancer for four years.” According to the National Cancer Institute, Merkel cell carcinoma is a very rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the skin. Sun exposure or a weak immune system can increase one’s chances of contracting the disease.

Buffett, born in Pascagoula on Christmas Day of 1946, was raised in Mobile, Ala., before learning to play guitar during his first year of college at Auburn University. He continued strumming while a student at Pearl River Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi.

By the time his senior year rolled around, Buffett and his band were playing six nights a week on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, La. Following graduation, Buffett moved to Nashville to work for Billboard Magazine and try his cards at being a folk-country singer.

However, it was what Buffett called “a fateful trip” to Key West, Fla., in 1971 that gave him the inspiration to move into more of a beach bum soft rock style.

In 1974, his song “Come Monday” peaked at No. 30 on the Billboard Charts. Come 1977, Buffett released “Margaritaville,” which epitomized the island escapism lifestyle so many dream of. That song spent 22 weeks on the charts, peaking at No. 8.

Within no time, Parrotheads – the name Buffett fans lovingly called themselves – were everywhere as Buffett went on to release 30 studio albums, New York Times bestselling books, a Broadway play, and win numerous awards. He also built a business empire that includes a resort in Biloxi.

Funeral arrangements are unknown at this time.

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