That’s Professor Parrothead to You

Jimmy Buffett lectures on life, music, and Miami during Stamps Family Distinguished Visitors Series

Recognition System

Music icon Jimmy Buffett croons a popular tune during his April visit to UM.

From tales of flying south on an expired credit card to writing his iconic “Margaritaville” along a six-minute stretch of A1A, veteran musician and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett regaled the crowd inside the BankUnited Center Fieldhouse with colorful stories from a 40-plus-year career.

“I kind of make this life up as I go along,” admitted a barefoot Buffett, sporting Bermuda shorts during the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation Distinguished Visitors Series in April. But spontaneity didn’t keep him from becoming a branding pioneer by quickly seizing every aspect of his artistry— from lyrics to laid-back persona. “If you don’t do it yourself, they will steal it from you,” warned Buffett, whose entertainment empire includes restaurants, hotels, record labels, novels, and, of course, beer. After playing his way through college, earning a journalism degree from University of Southern Mississippi, Buffett worked in Nashville for a couple of years, then made his nowfamous southward migration to the Florida Keys. In addition to business advice, Buffett shared his foolproof performance tips with the Frost School’s many industry hopefuls: “Take ten deep breaths before you walk up on any stage, never forget to duck, and never forget it can go to hell at any time.”

Recalling several small, now-defunct clubs he played in and iconic hits he recorded locally, Buffett said Miami offers a great “microcosm of culture expressed in music and art.” Taking a cue from literary hero Mark Twain, he concluded by counseling students to get the most of their UM education by making sure to “light out into the territory” of Miami and explore the “world out there at your doorstep.” After a Q&A session, the consummate entertainer strapped on his guitar and played his 1970s-era ode to snowbirds, “Migration,” then launched into a rousing rendition of “Volcano” that had his audience of more than 600, including several deans, dancing and singing along. When series sponsor Penny Stamps and Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc presented the 63-year-old with a No. 80 Hurricanes jersey, he deadpanned, “I’ll think about retiring when I hit that number.” If standing ovations are any indication, no one was in a hurry for that day.