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Living the life of a parrot head

In “Today’s Backstage Pass” Jimmy Buffett and fans talk about the “Margaritaville” ethos.
/ Source: TODAY

On “Today’s Backstage Pass we talk about the cult following of Jimmy Buffett. Just ask his die hard fans, affectionately known as “parrot heads,” and they’ll tell you, Jimmy isn’t just a musician, he’s a lifestyle. NBC’s Katie Couric reports.

They're doctors, lawyers and teachers but you can’t tell by looking at them.

Fans say, “This is our way to release the 8 to 5.”

Another says, “We want to do what Jimmy personifies, which is work 3 or 4 months out of the year and spend the rest of the year in the Caribbean, having a good time.”

“As far as I see, they’re pretty normal people most of the time. They have maybe a slight streak of insanity in their make-up which comes out when they come to the show,” says Buffett.

He adds, “We have a set number of songs we call ‘this is the list of songs we have to play or get killed.’”

After countless performances over four decades, “Margaritaville” tops the list.

“Watching the audience and how they react to the song keeps it totally fresh because they’re amazing,” says Buffett.

Where exactly is the fictitious Margaritaville? It’s in the tropics somewhere between the port of indecision and southwest of disorder, but no parallels of latitude or longitude mark the spot exactly. You don’t have to be a navigator to get there. Palm trees provide the camouflage, passports are not required and island music rules. No waiting lines for anything. There is a beach and thatched roof bar perched on the edge of the turquoise sea where you can always find a barstool. There are lots of lies and loads of stories.

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immy Buffett has built himself an entertainment empire, including lines of clothing and a chain of restaurants - called, you guessed it, Margaritaville — and retail stores. But it is his annual concert tour that consistently lands him on Fortune magazine’s list of highest earning entertainers.

“They’re the paying customer. They’re allowing me to have this lifestyle,” Buffett says about his fans.

And that lifestyle isn’t all that different from the beach party atmosphere he creates.

“When I’m not Jimmy Buffett the performer you won’t find me hanging out on stage. I go fishing or I fly. I do something that is my release.”

But when he’s on stage it’s all about kicking back with the parrot heads.

“I love being a performer, I mean that’s the great thing about it.”