Born December 25, 1946, in Pascagoula, Miss., but raised in Mobile, Ala., Buffett describes his songs as "90 percent autobiographical," a statement attested to by his narratives of wine, women and song. He is "the son of the son of a sailor," and he describes his grandfather's life in "The Captain and the Kid."
His father was a naval architect who often took Buffett on sailing trips. Buffett studied journalism at the University of Southern Mississippi. Working as the Nashville correspondent for Billboard magazine, he built up the contacts that led to his 1970 debut for Barnaby Records, but the album and its follow-up were not well produced.
Buffett settled in Key West, Fla., and although initially involved in smuggling, he changed his ways when offered $25,000 to make an album for ABC Records. He went to Nashville, recorded A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean for $10,000 and bought a boat with the remainder. The album included several story songs about misdemeanors ("The Great Filling Station Holdup," "Peanut Butter Conspiracy"), together with the lazy feel of "He Went to Paris," which was recorded by Waylon Jennings. His humorous "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw?" was written under the pseudonym of Marvin Gardens, who made imaginary appearances at Buffett's one-man concerts. Living and Dying in 3/4 Time included his U.S. Top 30 hit "Come Monday."