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Paul McCartney: Jimmy Buffett’s exotic, lush stories were hard to keep up with

Sir Paul McCartney has paid tribute to Jimmy Buffett as not just a US singer-songwriter but as a friend who would tell such “exotic and lush” stories that The Beatles star found it hard to “keep up with him”.

Buffett, known for the hit song Margaritaville, died “surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs” at the age of 76 on Friday.

He earned two Grammy Award nominations, two Academy of Country Music Awards and a Country Music Association Award.

In a lengthy Instagram post, Liverpool-born musician Sir Paul described him as a “one of the kindest and most generous people” and referenced Buffett as one of the “many wonderful people” who have died recently.

The British singer has paid tribute, over the last few months, to chat show host Sir Michael Parkinson, conductor Carl Davis and US singer Tony Bennett.

Sir Paul also said: “(Jimmy) had a most amazing lust for life and a beautiful sense of humour. When we swapped tales about the past his were so exotic and lush and involved sailing trips and surfing and so many exciting stories that it was hard for me to keep up with him.

“Right up to the last minute his eyes still twinkled with a humour that said, ‘I love this world and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it’.

“So many of us will miss Jimmy and his tremendous personality. His love for us all, and for mankind as a whole.

“Last, but not least, is his songwriting and vocal ability.”

Elton John – Farewell Yellow Brick Road show – Stockholm
Sir Elton John performs during his Farewell Yellow Brick Road show (Yui Mok/PA)

Sir Paul also recalled how Buffett asked a roadie to re-string a guitar for him so the 81-year-old could play left-handed.

“It’s a beautiful instrument, and every time I play it now it’ll remind me of what a great man Jimmy was,” he also said. “So long, Jim. You are a very special man and friend and it was a great privilege to get to know you and love you. Bubbles up, my friend.”

Sir Paul said he also saw Buffett recently and heard his latest songs, My Gummy Just Kicked In, and Bubbles Up, the latter of which has a vocal that the ex-Beatle called “probably the best I’ve heard him sing ever”.

Released in 1977, Margaritaville – taking its name from the popular cocktail – is about having a laid-back lifestyle in a tropical tourist location.

The chart-topping song, which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016, also lent its name to Buffett’s chain of shops, restaurants and resorts along with a radio station.

US President Joe Biden hailed Buffett as a “poet of paradise” and a “best-selling writer, businessman, pilot, and conservationist who championed the waters and Gulf Coast that he so loved”.

In a statement, Mr Biden added: “His witty, wistful songs celebrate a uniquely American cast of characters and seaside folkways, weaving together an unforgettable musical mix of country, folk, rock, pop, and calypso into something uniquely his own.

“We (my wife Jill and I) had the honour to meet and get to know Jimmy over the years, and he was in life as he was performing on stage – full of goodwill and joy, using his gift to bring people together.”

Writing in an Instagram story, British megastar Sir Elton John called Buffett “a unique and treasured entertainer” who fans “adored”.

Sir Elton released a 2006 record called The Captain And The Kid, the same title as a song on Buffett’s 1970 debut record, Down To Earth.

Also paying tribute was The Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson, rapper LL Cool J, American surfer Kelly Slater, Star Trek star George Takei, US TV presenter Andy Cohen and Whiplash actor Miles Teller.

Slater, 51, said on Instagram that since he met Buffett in France in 2010 he “kind of became a surrogate” father to him and said he did not “want to believe such a fine man is gone” but he was thankful for their time together.

The singer and businessman is survived by his wife Jane, daughters Savannah and Sarah, and son Cameron.