Jimmy Buffett: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Facts
Eligible Since: 1996
Grammy Awards/Nominations: 0/2
Career Top 40 Hits: 7
Essential Tracks: Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw, Come Monday, A Pirate Looks at Forty, Margaritaville, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Fins, Volcano, It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere
Essential Albums: Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes; Son of a Son of a Sailor; Volcano
Jimmy Buffett passed away in September 2023 after a lengthy and successful career. Though his name occasionally comes up in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame conversation, he’s never been seriously considered by Hall voters.
Might his passing compel the Rock Hall to give his career another look? Let’s recap his accomplishments, and discuss why Hall voters might want to consider his candidacy.
Jimmy Buffett’s Rock Hall Credentials
Buffett has a couple of classic songs that everyone knows, most notably “Margaritaville,” his only Top 10 hit – it peaked at #8 in 1977.
“Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” came to typify his “beach bum soft rock” style, which blended folk, pop, and country, often in tunes about tropical drinks, beaches, and living the good life. He instinctively knew the importance of creating a unique brand, years before branding became a common goal.
Buffet has some other quality songs that the general public many not be familiar with. Like “Son of a Son of a Sailor,” a tribute to Buffett’s grandfather. He sings, “I’m just a son of a son, son of a son/ Son of a son of a sailor / The sea’s in my veins, my tradition remains / I’m just glad I don’t live in a trailer.”
Buffett also had a dedicated group of fans known as Parrotheads, who attended his concerts and frequented his Margaritaville restaurants and resorts.
Post-2000, Buffett had a bit of a career renaissance with a few collaborations with country acts. His 2003 hit “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” with Alan Jackson was classic Buffett, with a lyric about how he’d rather have a few drinks than spend the day working.
The question of influence is always an important one, and Buffett can rightfully claim that his ultra laid-back style has lived on in rock artists like Uncle Kracker and country singers like Zac Brown and Kenny Chesney.
The Case Against Jimmy Buffett
Buffett’s music was never well-received by critics, and he only achieved a moderate level of chart success. Many thought his songs were too lightweight. He did, after all, record tracks titled “Growing Older But Not Up,” “We are the People Our Parents Warned Us About,” “I Play for Gumbo,” and “Too Drunk to Karaoke,” and “The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful.”
His music was infused with a healthy sense of humor, but that tends to work against artists when it comes to Rock Hall induction. Why? Who knows. Perhaps some voters take themselves, or the institution, too seriously. In any case, acts whose sense of humor shines through in their work have had a tough time earning induction. See Weezer, Warren Zevon, and Weird Al Yankovic.
Buffett didn’t win a lot of awards, either. When he and Jackson captured the 2003 CMA Award for Vocal Event of the Year, he said in his acceptance speech, “I’ve never won anything for anything, and it feels great to do it here.” The song later captured Single of the Year at the 2004 ACM Awards as well.
Buffett only scored two Grammy nominations. “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” was nominated for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals, and he was up for the same award a year later for “Hey Good Lookin'” with Jackson, Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith and George Strait.
The track “Margaritaville” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016, so Buffett did get at least some recognition from the Recording Academy.
The Verdict: Will Jimmy Buffett Ever Get Inducted Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Given his recent passing, if Jimmy Buffett is ever going to get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, now would be the time.
Sometimes it takes losing a talented artist for voters to truly appreciate them. That happened with Donna Summer, who was overlooked until after she passed away.
I’ll put Buffett’s odds of getting inducted next year at 15%, or a one-in-six chance. If it doesn’t happen soon, though, it may not happen at all.
Unfortunately, Buffett isn’t the kind of act the Hall tends to favor. Let’s give him about a one in three (30%) chance of ultimately earning the honor.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:
Odds of Getting Inducted Next Year: 15%
Odds of Getting Inducted in the Next Five Years: 20%
Odds of Getting Inducted Eventually: 30%
Do you think Jimmy Buffett will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame someday? Leave a comment and let us know!
Last Updated on September 22, 2023