Days after Jimmy Buffett’s death at age 76 earlier this month, the musician’s sister, Laurie Buffett McGuane, is opening up about how she and her brother were both battling cancer together, at the same time.
“Jimmy and I were diagnosed with cancer about the same time. It was four years ago and Jimmy was actually diagnosed first,” Laurie told the outlet. “When Jimmy found out [I had cancer] he brought the whole family and the dogs to Montana to be with me.”
As the “Margaritaville” singer fought Merkel cell carcinoma, Laurie was undergoing treatment to battle pancreatic cancer, all around the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Jimmy and I became closer because of our cancers,” said Laurie, who is now cancer-free after undergoing treatment. “We talked before and after our scans… We shared a club that nobody wants to join.”
“I am thunderstruck that Jimmy didn’t make it,” she added in her remarks to the outlet.
The singer died on Sept. 1, and news of his death was posted to his social media pages.
“Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of Sept. 1st surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs,” read a statement posted to the singer’s social media pages late Friday. “He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”
Buffett released “Margaritaville” on Feb. 14, 1977, and the song quickly became a cultural phenomenon, encouraging fans to live a low-key lifestyle of “growing older, but not up.”
“Margaritaville” was off his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, and spent 22 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 8. It was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 2016 for its cultural and historic significance.
Jimmy largely kept his cancer battle under wraps, but his failing health forced him to cancel several shows near the end of his life, which Laurie told People was incredibly difficult for him.
“Jimmy wanted to perform the shows that he had to cancel,” she said. “He brought joy to so many… When Jimmy was in the world, I felt safe.”
The success of “Margaritaville” would go on to inspire restaurants and resorts, giving him a multimillion-dollar brand. With a net worth of $1 billion, he landed at No. 18 on Forbes’ list of the Richest Celebrities of All Time.
In addition to his music, he was the author of a few books including Where Is Joe Merchant? and A Pirate Looks At Fifty. He was also a co-producer and co-star of an adaptation of Carl Hiaasen’s novel, Hoot, and worked on the Broadway jukebox musical, Escape to Margaritaville.
He is survived by his wife, Jane, his daughters, Savannah and Sarah, and his son, Cameron. For more on his life and legacy, see the video below.