Jimmy Buffett Honored With All-Star Tribute at 2023 CMAs

Jimmy Buffett died on Sept. 1 at age 76 due to Merkel cell carcinoma.

Jimmy Buffett's friends and collaborators teamed up to pay tribute to the late "Margaritaville" musician during Wednesday's 2023 CMA Awards. Kenny Chesney, Mac McAnally, Alan Jackson and Zac Brown Band came together to deliver a touching memorial to Buffett, who died on Sept. 1 at age 76 after a private battle with Merkel cell carcinoma.

Chesney and McAnally kicked off the performance with a stripped-down version of Buffett's "A Pirate Looks at Forty," changing the lyrics from "just a few friends" to "Jimmy made a whole world full of friends" in one particularly emotional moment. Jackson and Zac Brown then took to the stage to somberly sing "Adios My Friend," before launching into Buffett's iconic "Margaritaville."

Everyone who performed during Buffett's tribute at the 2023 CMA Awards had worked with the late musician in the past, giving the memorial an emotional and personal connection. Chesney first worked with Buffett on two songs from the "Come Monday" artist's 2004 album License to Chill, and later recorded a cover of Buffett's 1974 song "Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season" for his own 2018 album Songs for the Saints.

McAnally performed as one of Buffett's backing instrumentalists in his Coral Reefer Band until the "Cheeseburger in Paradise" artist's death, producing many songs for him across multiple albums. Jackson and Buffett's best-known collaboration may be 2004's "Hey Good Lookin'" but the two also teamed up for the 2003 single "It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere," also working together on "Boats to Build," which also appeared on License to Chill, as well as the 2006 song "Barefootin'." Zac Brown Band and Buffett performed together on the hit 2010 single "Knee Deep" from the band's You Get What You Give album.

Buffett died at his home in Sag Harbor, New York at age 76 on Sept. 1, his official obituary revealed, after being diagnosed with Merkel cell skin cancer four years prior. "Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs," the statement shared to Buffett's website revealed. "He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many." The musician is survived by his wife of 46 years Jane, daughters Savannah and Sarah Delaney, son Cameron, sisters Laurie and Lucy, grandson Marley and his "devoted pack of dogs" Lola, Kingston, Pepper, Rosie, Ajax and Kody.