Poster Jimmy Buffett plays trombone
Jimmy Buffett plays trombone on 'The Late Late Show With James Corden.'

Before 'Margaritaville,' Jimmy Buffett started his musical life on trombone

Many people know Jimmy Buffett, who died Friday at 76, as the laid-back yacht-rocker who parlayed his 1977 hit “Margaritaville” into a long musical career and a billion-dollar business empire. But only the most diehard Parrotheads — the lovable moniker for his faithful fans — know that he also played trombone. It's true!

Like many kids, Buffett learned to play in school band. That’s where he picked up the trombone, at St. Ignatius Catholic School in Mobile, Alabama, during the late 1950s.

Late-night TV host James Corden surely knew of Buffett’s band-geek past when he had the singer as a guest on The Late Late Show in 2019. During a hilarious segment called “Yay or Nay,” Corden put Buffett on the spot.

“It is a fact — I don’t consider it up for debate; it is a fact — you make some of the most laid-back, chilled-out music of all time,” Corden said to Buffett. “But — can you play a slightly less chilled-out instrument? Can you play the trombone? Jimmy Buff-yay? Or Jimmy Buff-nay?”

“Yay,” Buffett replied coolly.

Corden then handed the singer a trombone. Buffett went for shtick as he stood and blasted a few notes in some kind of mangled fanfare to uproarious applause from the audience and fellow guests Matthew McConaughey and Reba McEntire.

But his ease with the instrument clearly showed that he knew what he was doing. In fact, according to Parrotheads online, he occasionally played trombone during live performances, including on his song “Bob Roberts Society Band” during a 1997 tour and with backup brass musicians in the late ‘80s.

For any trombonists out there who want to pay tribute to Buffett, David W. Young has published his arrangement of “Margaritaville” for solo trombone. No margarita needed.

Rest in peace, Jimmy Buffett — beach-bum musician, savvy businessman and laid-back trombonist.

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