The music world pauses to remember the iconic Jimmy Buffett, whose voice and songs became synonymous with coastal serenity and laid-back living. September saw the loss of Buffett, whose life and legacy were celebrated by a star-studded lineup at the CMA Awards this Wednesday.
In a heartfelt conversation with Fox News Digital, Mac McAnally, the esteemed guitarist of Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band, reminisced over his final hours with the cherished musician. McAnally, reflecting on their last encounter just a day before Buffett passed, recalled the artist's enduring optimism, "He was all smiles, telling me 'What a hell of a ride, keep it going, keep the party going,'—a sentiment we're all committed to honoring." During their last visit, an emotional McAnally turned to music to express the unspoken bond between them, sharing stories and laughter, with Buffett insisting on maintaining the joy he sparked.
A fighter to the end, Buffett grappled with Merkel Cell Skin Cancer for four years. Despite the challenges, his passion for music never waned, culminating in a surprise performance in Rhode Island in July, his final bow.
Buffett's Musical Tribute
Buffett's departure left a void echoed by fans and contemporaries alike.
The tribute at the CMA Awards saw McAnally unite with Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, and the Zac Brown Band to perform classics like “Margaritaville” and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”. The collaboration was a poignant reminder of Buffett's influence and the affection he held for these artists, mirroring the love of a global fanbase.
McAnally's reverence for Buffett shone through as he spoke of the joy embedded in Buffett’s last album—a labor of love that the guitarist believes will resonate with fans during the tribute. "We're going to be sending his music out as far as we can, with Buffett's own joy as our guide," he stated.
Buffett, renowned for his vibrant embrace of life and his advocacy for joy, left an indelible impression on those who knew him personally and those who found solace in his music. McAnally shared that Buffett’s wish was for his fans to remember the happiness he championed rather than sorrow at his passing.
As the night dedicated to Buffett's memory approached, McAnally expressed a profound connection with the songs they were set to perform. "Tonight, we're not just playing music; we're sharing Buffett’s spirit, knowing it's going to be a beacon of goodwill, just as he was," he remarked.
Closing his tribute, McAnally painted a picture of Buffett as a "big rolling ball of goodwill," whose legacy transcended his music, leaving a timeless impression on everyone he met, whether on stage or in daily life.