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Jerry Jeff Walker Passes Away from Cancer

October 25th, 2020


The man who introduced Jimmy Buffett to Key West has passed away after a battle with throat cancer. Jerry Jeff Walker, most famous for the song “Mr. Bojangles,” was 78.

The Margaritaville Key West website details Buffett and Walker’s venture to Key West:

Jimmy Buffett arrived in Key West in November 1971 with singer and songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker (already famous for “Mr. Bojangles”) and Teresa “Murphy” Clark. Jerry Jeff, Murphy and her young son, Justin, had offered Jimmy refuge in their open-air Coconut Grove home after Jimmy fled Nashville’s weather and business climate.

His marriage to his hometown sweetheart had ended, and he’d failed to find many open doors in the Music City. The record industry didn’t understand the young man’s style, motivation or lyrics. Murphy and Jerry Jeff wanted to deliver some happiness to dispel Jimmy’s gloom and sense of loss. After a week or two of Florida-orientation, they piled into “Flying Lady,” Jerry Jeff’s elegant silver and maroon ’47 Packard sedan, for a drive southward. Jimmy Buffett had never before seen the Florida Keys. Key West was an outpost over 100 miles from our mainland – closer to Cuba than to Florida – a place of fascinating history and charm, dependent upon the ocean for much of its income yet subject to the whims of weather and the perils of change. Jimmy’s discovery of the island meant everything to the man.

It changed his life and countless other lives in turn. As time passes, that quick November 1971 jaunt to the Keys means more and more to the island, the state of Florida, and the national culture.

Jimmy posted a tribute on social media:

Read more about Jerry Jeff Walker’s life here.


Tagged in Personal/Family, Related Artists