American Culture Studies Ph.D. Dissertations


Parrotheads, Cheeseburgers, and Paradise: Adult Music Fandom and Fan Practices

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Culture Studies/Popular Culture

First Advisor

Radhika Gajjala (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Susana Pena (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Donald McQuarie (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Robert Sloane (Committee Member)


Jimmy Buffett's beach bum lifestyle music was essentially solidified with his album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes in 1977, and it is his fans, collectively known as Parrotheads, who have continued to help him achieve such success. This dissertation examines not only Parrotheads, but also the ways in which this fan group has invested in, and engaged with, the "Margaritaville State of Mind" that Buffett and his fans have cultivated together. Derived from Buffett's hit song, "Margaritaville," Buffett's beach bum escapism ethos has transformed his fandom into an experience and, further, a lifestyle – a state of mind and a state of being – to be enjoyed by his fans whether it is through their celebration of their fandom, or even in the goods and services they purchase. Moreso, this work explores various ways that a tropical escapism lifestyle is evoked and developed by Parrotheads through the many fan activities they engage with as part of belonging to their local Parrothead clubs. Parrotheads have chosen, as an integral part of their fandom, to raise money for local social and environmental charities, all in the name of their fandom. Another aspect examined in this dissertation investigates how Parrotheads are not only developing and becoming active participants, but also performing their fandom in social networking sites developed specifically for them. Ultimately, this project highlights how some music fans are embracing new types of music-centered leisure cultures in contemporary society. Parrotheads are a fascinating example of an organization functioning as a social club, united by love of a musician and his message; in this instance, a literal and figurative investment in Jimmy Buffett and his trop-rock music, from which they have worked together to cultivate a mythical Margaritaville.