NEW YORK - Jimmy Buffett has never won a Grammy Award, and he's not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so how come he's richer than Bruce Springsteen? Some answers can be found at the Marquis Theatre, where we found him getting ready for the opening of his new musical.
Laid-back has rarely looked so good. The man making an "Escape to Margaritaville" has built a fortune by seeming like he doesn't have a care in the world.
"The ability to have a little fun in life is necessary and even more so now," Jimmy told me during final rehearsals of his new show.
Buffett's fans are known as Parrotheads, and for decades now, his music has provided the soundtrack for their lives. He never saw that coming when he was writing his famous songs.
"No, I did not," he said. "I was just writing songs about people that I knew about and episodes in my own life."
Buffett's new Broadway show is but one small part of an empire. The musician is worth more than half a billion dollars, but the musical featuring his old tunes woven into a loose story is very close to his heart. Being on Broadway is one of his long held dreams.
"One of the cool things is walking to work down Broadway and being on Broadway, so to me, I still have to pinch myself to see that's going to happen," Buffet said. I asked him how that makes him feel and he replied, "You know I always love that Drifter's song: 'You know, the neon lights are bright on Broadway.' I sing it coming down Broadway."
Growing up in Mobile, Alabama, Jimmy was inspired to pursue show business by his late mother who loved to act in local theaters. I asked him, "Do you ever think of her in this theater?" He answered immediately and enthusiastically.
"Yeah, I think about her a lot because she would be very, very happy and pleased that I got this far," he said.
Talking to Jimmy is a lot more fun that speaking with your average rich and famous person. There is not a hint of pretense and no false modesty. Cameraman Fred Mason asked Jimmy if he still owned a pair of flip-flops. Buffet replied, "Yeah, I keep 'em on my jet."