FINS UP: Stanly Parrotheads mourn death of Jimmy Buffett

Stanly County is home to many Parrotheads, and they are mourning the loss of their beloved leader.

Parrotheads, the fans of Jimmy Buffett, took to social media and found other ways to pay tribute to the singer-songwriter who died Friday night at age 76.

Buffett was known for fan favorites such as “Fins,” “Cheeseburger In Paradise” and “A Pirate Looks At Forty.”

His most well known commercial success came with the Alan Jackson duet “It’s Five O’clock Somewhere” and “Margaritaville,” a 1977 song that reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, his highest ranking single.

“Margaritaville” was once called the “most lucrative song of all time,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek, due to its tie-in to restaurants, drinks, hotels and merchandise. Forbes listed Buffett as having a net worth of $1 billion earlier this year.
Melanie Russell McLary of Stanfield does not know how many of Buffett’s shows she went to, but she estimates it was as least 10.
“I went to my first concert of his about 25 years ago,” McLary said.

A random photo with “pirates” at one show is now a treasured memory, and the one-time strangers who posed with her for the photo later became friends and a coworker.

“We found out when I pulled out an old pic and it was him and his wife with me and my friends,” she said. “We are still friends years later and went to see him together last year.”

Melanie Russell McLary, left, is joined by her husband, Darrin, at one of Jimmy Buffett's shows. The singer-songwriter died Friday at age 76. (Contributed)

Melanie Russell McLary, left, is joined by her husband, Darrin, at one of Jimmy Buffett’s shows. The singer-songwriter died Friday at age 76. (Contributed)

The “pirates” refers to how her friends were dressed at the concert. But that was nothing to McLary, who was dressed in a shark costume, in tribute to the song “Fins.” Other attendees to his concerts regularly wore Hawaiian shirts, leis, grass skirts or anything nautical, tropical or parrot themed.

“I legit went out for a cheeseburger today (Saturday) and ordered it lettuce, no tomato, Heinz 57 and French fried potatoes. Our waitress had no clue and sadly explained how they didn’t use Heinz … also, I don’t eat tomato,” McLary tells of the order from Buffett’s song “Cheeseburger In Paradise.”

As if dressing up to show her fandom wasn’t enough, when she made a mistake ordering concert tickets, it was no big deal.

“The Atlanta show I ended up at because I clicked the wrong drop down box and didn’t know it til I checked out,” she said. “All that meant was road trip.”

Amy Coleman, who lives in Albemarle, spends part of her year at the beach.

She attended back-to-back concerts in Cincinnati and Cleveland one weekend when she was in college.

But her love for Buffett’s music began earlier.

“I remember being in daycare in the Summer of 1978, and a bunch of us 7- and 8-year-olds, were standing around on the playground. We taught ourselves the words to ‘I like mine with lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57, and French friend potato,’ — the bridge to ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise.’ We would clap to the beat, and say the all the words in unison. It made us so proud of ourselves,” she said.

“We didn’t even know what all the words meant. We all had such wide smiles. Whenever we saw each other, we’d break into laughter and song,” she added. “I didn’t even know who Jimmy Buffett was. But the first time I heard him sing ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ on the radio, I told my parents, ‘That’s my cheeseburger song!’ And my mama explained to me that he wrote it. Wow! I was so impressed. A lifelong fan, from the tender age of 8.”