Zac Brown Band paid tribute to Jimmy Buffett Saturday hours after their “Knee Deep” collaborator’s death with a performance of “Margaritaville” at the group’s concert in Gilford, New Hampshire.
Brown and company had played the 1977 classic a handful of times live of the years — including a CMT Crossroads rendition with Buffett himself — but Saturday’s performance was especially poignant as it came following news of Buffett’s death at the age of 76.
Zac Brown Band and Buffett frequently collaborated over the years, beginning in 2009 when the pair teamed up to tape an episode of CMT Crossroads. The following year, ZBB recruited Buffett to appear on their You Get What You Give single “Knee Deep,” a song that rose to Number One on the country charts, Buffett’s second time in the top spot following “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” with Alan Jackson. In 2022, Brown and Buffett worked together yet again, this time for a new version of “Same Boat.”
Speaking to CMT in 2010, Brown talked about his chance meeting with Buffett. “I was at a gentleman’s club that’s up in the redwoods in California, and the camp next to mine, Jimmy was there,” Brown said.
“They ended up having this big play down at camp, and everyone was at the play except me and Jimmy and John. We walked over next door, and there was Jimmy Buffett and a friend eating a piece of pie. I was like, ‘Well, hey, man, do you wanna hear a tune?’ You know, ‘We wanna play a song.’ So he sat down next to the fire and ate his pie, and we traded songs for two hours. That’s how we ended up meeting, and we stayed in touch with him after that and he ended up coming out to see us do a show. He’s just been a hero forever, so it was really cool.”
Following news of Buffett’s death following a four-year private battle with Merkle cell skin cancer, Brown honored his friend on social media. “Hope you’re knee deep in the water somewhere in paradise today, @jimmybuffett. We were honored to know you and to make music with you. Fins up,” Brown wrote.