Saturday, 13 July 2013

Music of a different kind - Jimmy Buffet and the southern French Polynesian islands

John alerted me to the fact one of his favourite singers, Jimmy Buffet, has a French Polynesian connection. Apparently Buffet is well known for singing the Crosby Stills & Nash song "Southern Cross". The first few lines of the song are as follows: Got out of town on a boat goin' to southern islands. Sailing a reach before a followin' sea. She was makin' for the trades on the outside, And the downhill run to Papeete Bay. Off the wind on this heading lie the Marquesas. We got eighty feet of the waterline. Nicely making way. .... So I was curious to find out whether Jimmy Buffet ever stepped on the shores of Tahiti or the Marquesas. And the answer is yes to Tahiti and no to the Marquesas. He did perform on various islands including Tahiti, Moorea, and on Bora Bora in the 1980s, including a couple of benefit concerts where proceeds from ticket sales were donated to build a playground for the children of Bora Bora, and on another occasion supported Tahiti after the 1983 cyclones. “Like many “Tahiti-philes” who keep coming back to these islands, Jimmy Buffett has visited Tahiti and Her Islands on several occasions. Some people recall when he used to sit at the end of the bar at Hotel Bali Hai on Moorea during the early 1980’s, quietly playing his guitar and singing for his own pleasure. Others remember seeing him at Bloody Mary’s on Bora Bora in 1986, where he gave an impromptu performance. In 1982 Jimmy Buffett did a concert at Tahiti’s Cultural Center, which was then called OTAC. Jimmy Buffett recalls that when they arrived at the airport in Tahiti they were met by Hugh Kelley, one of the three “Bali Hai Boys” who had left Southern California in the early 1960s and eventually owned the Bali Hai hotels on Moorea, Raiatea and Huahine. Jimmy said that he and Hugh became instant friends. While sitting in Kelley’s big Urufara house in the mountains above Cook’s Bay on Moorea, he looked down at the vista and a song came out as if it had been sitting inside him waiting for the moment. Jimmy called this song, “One Particular Harbor” and it has become one of his most popular creations. Jimmy Buffet’s easy going style and friendly smile have earned him the title of “the troubadour of laid-back island living”. “Jimmy had such a wonderful time here that he wants to come back and go to Pitcairn Island,” said Rick Guenett. “His ancestor, John Buffett, was the first white man to live on Pitcairn after the “Bounty” mutineers. John Buffett’s descendants are now living on Norfolk Island.” Pitcairn is only perhaps a couple of thousand km to the south east of Tahiti. Jimmy Buffet 1985 at Bora Bora performing at the restaurant Bloody Mary;s.

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