Jimmy Buffett's Cause of Death Revealed

Legendary musician Jimmy Buffett, best known for his hit single "Margaritaville," died Sept. 1 at age 76 following a lengthy health battle.

By Corinne Heller Sep 03, 2023 5:16 PMTags
Watch: Jimmy Buffett Dead at 76: Stars Pay Tribute

Jimmy Buffett privately fought a lengthy health battle prior to his death.

The legendary musician, best known for his single "Margaritaville," passed away Sept. 1 at age 76 at his home in Sag Harbor, Long Island, while surrounded by family and friends. Before he died, Buffett fought Merkel Cell Skin Cancer for four years, according to an obituary posted on his website.

But the singer-songwriter did not let his illness stop him from doing what he loved. "He continued to perform during treatment," the website stated, "playing his last show, a surprise appearance in Rhode Island, in early July."

Less than two months after he was hospitalized for what he described on X (formerly known as Twitter) as "issues that needed immediate attention," the star had joined country singer Mac McAnally, a member of his backing group The Coral Reefer Band, onstage at his outdoor show at the Sunset Cove waterfront bar July 2.

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As seen in a video shared on the venue's Instagram, Buffett casually walked out onstage as McAnally performed a cover of the music legend and Alan Jackson's 2003 hit "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere," after singing the lyric, "At a moment like this, you can't help but wonder what would Jimmy Buffett do?" The crowd erupted in cheers and gave him a standing ovation.

Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

"I would come play for you," Buffett told the audience after taking hold of a mic, then grabbed a guitar and joined McAnally to finish the song.

The two then performed several other songs together, including "Cheeseburger in Paradise," "A Pirate Looks at Forty" and "Come Monday" before ending their joint set with "Margaritaville."

Following news of his death, many fellow iconic musicians, such as Paul McCartney, Elton John and Jon Bon Jovi, paid homage to him on social media. Read their tributes below.

RIP Jimmy Buffett

The legendary musician, best known for the hit single "Margaritaville," died Sept. 1 after a long battle with skin cancer. He was 76. Following news of his death, several fellow music icons and other celebs paid tribute to Buffett on social media.

Jon Bon Jovi

The Bon Jovi frontman shared this pic on his Instagram Sept. 2, writing, "Jimmy. Sail on my good friend. Luv u. JBJ."

Sir Paul McCartney

The music legend and former Beatles musician shared on Instagram a pic of the two at a party in the Hamptons in 2013.

"It seems that so many wonderful people are leaving this world, and now Jimmy Buffett is one of them," he wrote. "I've known Jimmy for some time and found him to be one of the kindest and most generous people."

Buffett, McCartney said, "had a most amazing lust for life and a beautiful sense of humour." He wrote, "When we swapped tales about the past his were so exotic and lush and involved sailing trips and surfing and so many exciting stories that it was hard for me to keep up with him. Right up to the last minute his eyes still twinkled with a humour that said, 'I love this world and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it.' So many of us will miss Jimmy and his tremendous personality. His love for us all, and for mankind as a whole."

McCartney continued, "Last, but not least, is his songwriting and vocal ability. If someone made an interesting remark he repeated it in his gorgeous Louisiana drawl and said, 'That's a good idea for a song.' Most times it didn't take too long for that song to appear. I was very happy to have played on one of his latest songs called 'My Gummy Just Kicked In.' We had a real fun session and he played me some of his new songs. One, in particular, I loved was the song, 'Bubbles Up.'"

The star later wrote, "So long, Jim. You are a very special man and friend and it was a great privilege to get to know you and love you. Bubbles up, my friend. Love, Paul."

Sir Elton John

"Jimmy Buffett was a unique and treasured entertainer," the fellow music legend wrote on his Instagram Stories. "His fans adored him and he never let them down. This is the saddest of news. A lovely man gone way too soon."

Blake Shelton

The two had worked together in recent years. Buffett wrote the theme song for Shelton's game show Barmageddon. "Heart broken this morning hearing of Jimmy Buffett's passing," he wrote of the late music icon on his Instagram Stories. "What an incredible talent and man. His songs will live on forever."

The country star continued, "I'll bet most of y'all don't know that he wrote the theme song for @barmageddonusa for me about 2 years ago," Shelton said. "Raising a glass today to the Son of a son of a Sailer."

Kenny Chesney

On his Instagram, the musician shared a video of himself sitting on a beach and performing Buffett's song "A Pirate Looks at 40."

"So goodbye Jimmy," he wrote. "Thanks for your friendship and the songs I will carry in my heart forever. Sail On Sailor."

Brian Wilson

The Beach Boys musician wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, " "Love and Mercy, Jimmy Buffett."

Sammy Hagar

On his Instagram, the Van Halen rocker dubbed Buffett the "Godfather of Lifestyle," adding, "Jimmy started it all and took it farther than anyone. He taught us all how to live. Jimmy taught us all how to wear shorts, flip-flops and a worn out T-shirt, walk on stage or to your favorite restaurant, and be comfortable."

In addition to his music career, Buffett was also known for his Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant chain, which was launched in 1985. Five years later, Hagar founded the Cabo Wabo restaurant and bar company.

"Jimmy turned us onto Corona beer, tequila, and margaritas," the rocker wrote on Instagram. "The first time I met Jimmy he said 'Oh you're the guy that's trying to get my job' and I said, 'Of course, we all want to be you.' Rest in paradise, Mr. Buffett."


The Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist commented on Sammy Hagar's Instagram post, "Love to jimmy."

Michael Douglas

The Oscar winner wrote on his Instagram, " What a loss, much too soon. Whether at home with friends, or on the stage, he always made people feel good. Multi-talented, and such a lovely man. My deepest sympathies to Jane, Savannah, Sarah, and Cameron. RIP @jimmybuffett

Catherine Zeta-Jones

Michael Douglas' wife and fellow Oscar winner wrote on her own page, "Jimmy Buffett loved you, as so many did. We will miss you. Love to Jane and all the family. Could there possibly be a 'cheeseburger in paradise' good enough for you? I hope so."

Hoda Kotb

"Oh no," the Today co-anchor wrote on Instagram. "This man personified joy. Embodied goodness. Always smiling. I remember the time he met my mom at jazzfest and showered her with love… like he knew her his whole life. Bet he did that millions of times to millions of people. RIP @jimmybuffett"

Kelly Slater

The surfing legend posted a pic of himself with Buffett on his Instagram. "I grew up listening to @jimmybuffett with my family," he wrote. "His music basically outlined the lives we desired…fishing, diving, dreaming about being in the tropics, playing music, and just living the dream."

He continued, "I met Jimmy in France in 2010 about 8 years or so after my dad died and the first day I told him how much he reminded me of my own father and from that moment on he kind of became a surrogate to me, occasionally calling me from some far off land telling me he missed me and I had to come visit him wherever he was. He told me life was too short not to take every good opportunity that came along and go live it."

He later wrote, "I really don't want to believe such a fine man is gone but I'm thankful and lucky for the times we had. It's 5 o'clock somewhere, Jimmy, and I know you'd be smoking a joint with a drink in your hand and a huge smile on your face like any good pirate would. Thanks for being one of the good guys. It was a real dream to know you. And as he always signed off…Fins Up!"

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