Buffett Chandler B
Photo by Clay Chandler

Apology from Thomas Crampton and David Garcia

We, as members of the committee organizing for Jimmy Buffett’s Hong Kong concert on January 18, would like to apologize.

Why apologize for a sell-out concert organized in less than six months raising more than HK$420,000 for Hong Kong’s neediest children?

Why apologize for a concert that had normally rational people wearing tailor-made Hawaiian shirts and going hoarse belting such hits a “Margaritaville” and “Come Monday”?

Just ask the many devoted fans who couldn’t get a ticket to the show.

As messages begging for tickets were left on Tom Crampton’s blog and strangers started tracking down Dave Garcia’s personal phone number, we understood our major miscalculation Jimmy Buffett’s appeal to devotees in Hong Kong, China, Thailand, the Philippines and beyond.

Buffett himself was confident of success from beginning. So confident, in fact, that he not only flew out with his band and gave the concert for free, but he also paid for the beer and tequila and donated the proceeds from the sales to the charity.

Every time we faced a problem, Jimmy emailed back: “But there must be a Parrot Head who can help us out with this.”

For those who don’t know, Parrot Heads are die hard Buffett fans. They wear colorful Hawaiian shirts and follow Jimmy Buffett around everywhere he plays. One such fan flew from Florida to Hong Kong with her daughter for three days to attend the concert. It was her first visit to Asia.

Truth is, we had no idea how big Jimmy’s first-ever appearance in Hong Kong would become. The concert outstripped all expectations, drawing fans from around Asia and we now realize that we could easily have sold 3,000 tickets instead of 650.

Convincing Jimmy to come to Hong Kong started with journalist PJ O’Rourke, a friend of Buffett’s, telling him on beach in Mexico that he should come to Hong Kong and support the FCC Charity Fund. Tom Crampton followed up when meeting Buffett in Paris last summer. Merrill Lynch and Dennis Ziengs then stepped in as lead sponsors and the party was on.

Our first warning signal of Jimmy’s popularity came when the “coconut telegraph” sold one third of the tickets within a week and before we even publicly announced the event.

Since the concert was held to support the Foreign Correspondents’ Club Charity Fund, we did not want to spend money advertising. Advertising costs money that should go to scholarships and supporting the FCC Language Center.

The second warning sign came when the original venue fell through and the Football Club came to our rescue. Despite the extra size of the Football Club, we managed to sell all 650 seats in no time.

Another warning: Stephen Engle of Bloomberg, Robin Lynam of The South China Morning Post, Clay Chandler of Fortune, Scott Murphy of Beatsmag and HK Magazine all lined up to interview him. In addition to the highly enthusiastic fans for his music, Buffett runs a series of very successful businesses, ranging from the Margaritaville restaurants to his own brand of tequila.

There was also a nice article by Robin Lynam of the South China Morning Post (stuck behind the publication’s firewall), a piece in HK Magazine (can’t find a link on their website) and a of Fortune magazine.

The final warning – when it was too late to change anything – came with Jimmy’s arrival in Hong Kong.

Never have so many offers flooded in to help out an artist playing for the FCC Charity Fund. People called to offer sailboats, cars, vacation homes and even said they planned to outbid the top sponsor for the next ball.

One fan said he would make a $50,000 donation to the Charity Fund in exchange for just shaking Jimmy’s hand.

While visiting the orphanage during his visit, Jimmy led the kids in singing the Hokey Pokey and had such fun we actually had trouble getting him out.

From the first strum of his guitar it became clear this was no ordinary concert. Not only did fans dress up in elaborate Parrot Head outfits – Hawaiian shirts and flip flops – but they sang all the lyrics to songs louder than Buffett himself.

He played for more than two hours and added the song “Somewhere Over China” to the playlist for the first time in 14 years.

The good news for Buffett fans: Jimmy loved the fans, Hong Kong and the charity so much, he plans to return next year.

ENDSsssss

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17 comments

  1. That is terrific Tom! Congrats on such a successful charity event!

  2. Tom, thanks for your work in organizing the event to raise money for the children in Hong Kong. It was a great opportunity for the people who got to attend.

    One small correction: “Somewhere Over China” was last played on 12/31/1999 about 8 years ago.

    Thanks again,
    Jim

  3. thomascrampton

    Jim,

    Wow! Great attention to details. Thanks for highlighting that. Do you know where it was played?

    Tom

  4. That would be the Millennium show Tom… at the Universal Amphitheatre in LA

  5. John

    I know he played it at Starlake Amp. in Pittsburgh Pa.

  6. I am a die-hard Buffet Fan! Love the feeling in the crowd at a show! There is nothing like it and not surprised your event was a success!
    It is also nice to hear Jimmy Buffet is involved in charitable events and making a difference! Maybe he can help save the homeless youth here in the USA next?
    Dawn

  7. Chris Lynn

    Please can I be put on the mailing list (and/or wait-list) for tickets to next year’s concert. Is there a date yet? I was one of those Parrothead Fans that failed to get a ticket and I’m in Bangkok! Sounds as though it was an awesome event.

  8. Jimmy Buffet with Coral Reefer Band’s performance is always remarkable. No one could deny how Jimmy buffet’s songs, such as Margaritaville, has always attracted people. Jimmy has gained a great number of fans during his music career and I’m no exception. I do love his style so much and I always do the possible to attend his concerts if I see that the ticket price is affordable because in such concerts such as Jimmy’s ticket brokers sky high prices. I have been recommended a site to compare ticket prices for free and it’s really an interesting idea because this way I’ll always look for the cheapest price offered. Here it is:
    http://www.ticketwood.com/concerts/Jimmy-Buffett-Tickets/index.php
    Jimmy Buffet Tickets
    We always want to watch our favourite artists but with some reasonable prices.

    NOTE FROM THOMAS CRAMPTON: THIS APPEARS TO BE AN EMAIL PLACED HERE BY TICKETWOOD, BUT I LEAVE IT IN CASE SOMEONE FINDS IT USEFUL.

  9. he has truly done a lot for the florida keys. he is a artist that has given back. hong kong willie

  10. Jimmy Buffet is a legend in South Florida especially in the Florida Keys. I am a huge fan of Jimmy Buffet and his concerts and can’t miss any in my area. Keep up the great work Jimmy!

  11. Great info. Thanks for that :) I really like your website

  12. The past two summers I have gone to the concerts and they were amazing!! Best time of my life. You will never see so many happy people gathered in one place except for a Jimmy Buffett concert!

  13. The past two summers I have gone to the concerts and they were amazing!! Best time of my life. You will never see so many happy people gathered in one place except for a Jimmy Buffett concert!

  14. Jimmy Buffett is one of my all time favorite singer! I got tickets to see him in West Palm Beach FL in April! I'll share the link to where I got my tickets at… http://tinyurl.com/65nccdb. They have great seats, I'm very happy! :)

  15. The good news for Buffett fans: Jimmy loved the fans, Hong Kong and the charity so much, he plans to return next year. 

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