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Jimmy Buffett had deep ties, affection for New Orleans

The Son of a Son of a Sailor was a Jazz Fest regular and a semi-regular on the New Orleans music scene.

NEW ORLEANS — Jimmy Buffett has been and will be forever remembered for flip flops, margaritas, island life and cheeseburgers but outside of the sun-soaked beaches he wrote about in his songs, New Orleans was a main influence and a mainstay in his life.

The “Margaritaville” singer was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi but his musical talents were unearthed and cultivated in New Orleans.

"He fell in love with the city back then," said NOLA.com Music Writer Keith Spera. "The city helped kind of give him the confidence to go out and do what he was going to do."

Buffett was as much of a fixture at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival as all but the most local of acts. He even performed at the fest the year after Katrina, despite some misgivings.

"I said, 'Jimmy, we got to do this. We're doing this,' recalled Jazz Fest Producer Quint Davis. "So he said, 'okay,' and he came."

Buffett was a New Orleans Saints fan who was at the team’s very first game and who could count among his friends, former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, a music lover himself who was known to populate the team’s sideline with musical stars.

“Thanks for the songs. Rest in Peace my friend,” Payton Tweeted Saturday. No doubt there were sideline passes reserved for Buffett for a game in Denver, if he so desired.

An excellent recount of Buffett’s life by Spera talked about Buffett being a Saints fan until the end. He celebrated like we all did during the NFC Championship game in 2010 and he suffered along with us all after the no-call cost the team a very good shot at the Super Bowl in 2019.

Spera said that while a student at Southern Miss, Buffett would play some gigs at a club on Bourbon Street. He said that Art Neville married his wife at Buffett’s home in Key West and he performed at Allen Toussaint’s memorial in 2015.

He was a New Orleanian minus the street address and birth certificate. He adopted the city and it was glad to have its newfound son.  

"Sorry to hear about the great Jimmy Buffett, leaving so young," Tweeted New Orleans legend Aaron Neville. "I know he will be welcomed in the heavenly band. He was friends with Artie, Charlie, and my pal Dr. John."

Former WWL-TV Anchor and Today show host Hoda Kotb, herself an adopted New Orleanian, remembered Buffett for his kindness.

"Oh no," she Tweeted. "This man personified joy... I remember the time he met my mom at Jazzfest and showered her with love... like he knew her his whole life."

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