WASHINGTON — Jimmy Buffett, who popularized beach bum soft rock with his 1977 hit "Margaritaville," died of rare type of skin cancer, according to his website.
Buffett died on Friday at the age of 76 in his Long Island home after a four-year battle with Merkel cell carcinoma, according to a statement published on Sunday.
Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare type of skin cancer which usually appears as a flesh-colored or bluish-red nodule, according to the Mayo Clinic. The cancer tends to spread quickly to other parts of the body and usually develops in older people.
Illness had forced the 76-year-old to reschedule concerts in May and Buffett acknowledged in social media posts that he had been hospitalized but provided no specifics at the time.
According to the statement, Buffett continued to perform while receiving treatment and played his last show in early July during a surprise appearance in Rhode Island.
The family requested donations be made to Jimmy Buffett’s Foundation Singing for Change, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute or MD Anderson Cancer Center.
After the announcement his death, tributes poured in from all walks of life, from Hollywood star Miles Teller posting photos of himself with Buffett to former U.S. Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, who wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that Buffett “lived life to the fullest and the world will miss him.” Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys wrote: “Love and Mercy, Jimmy Buffett.”
“Margaritaville,” released on Feb. 14, 1977, quickly took on a life of its own, becoming a state of mind for those ”wastin’ away,” an excuse for a life of low-key fun and escapism for those “growing older, but not up.”
The song — from the album “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” — spent 22 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at No. 8. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016 for its cultural and historic significance, became a karaoke standard and helped brand Key West, Florida, as a distinct sound of music and a destination known the world over.
“There was no such place as Margaritaville," Buffett told the Arizona Republic in 2021. “It was a made-up place in my mind, basically made up about my experiences in Key West and having to leave Key West and go on the road to work and then come back and spend time by the beach.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.