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.
Technorati Tags: Beatsmag, Clay Chandler, Dave Garcia, David Garcia, Dennis Ziengs, fcc, FCC Charity Fund, Foreign Correspondtents Club, Hong Kong, Jimmy Buffett, Merrill Lynch, Robin Lynam, Scott Murphy, Stephen Engle