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The Record Online is the official online publication for Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Alongside the printed magazine The Record, this publication is dedicated to chapter and alumni news, events and opportunities, and serves a way for brothers to stay connected with the organization.

My night with Jimmy Buffett

by Kirk Dooley (Texas Tech ’78)

Editor’s note: The original article can be found here –

Dallas concert brought together old friends and made some new.

It all began in Lubbock in 1975. My lifelong buddy, Doug Thompson, and I were sophomores at Texas Tech, living in the new Encounter Seven apartments, around the corner from Buddy Holly’s childhood home. Our first-floor apartment opened up to a pool, where everyone gathered. Above us were two of our Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity brothers, Tim and Butch Strunk, two ranchers from Colorado County who would put their enormous speakers outside their door to blast music to the pool area. All day, every day. For months!

The problem was that they had only one eight-track tape, and it played over and over again. The tape, Living and Dying in 3/4 Time, was by an up-and-coming singer-songwriter named Jimmy Buffett.

At first it was OK, then it became annoying, then it pushed Doug over the edge. He became unnerved enough to transfer to the University of Texas. I got hooked on Buffett’s music. His lyrics became a constant inspiration.

Almost a decade later, I created and co-founded Park Cities People newspaper and also created Texas Taxi limousine service (white Cadillac convertibles with steer horns on the front and Texas flags flying from the back) with my buddies DeWitt Ray and David Wildman.

One day, I walked into my office at Park Cities People and there was a cowboy asleep on my couch. I went to work writing my weekly column. When the cowboy woke up, I said, “What brings you to town, Butch?”

He replied, “Jimmy Buffett plays tonight in Dallas, and I figured you’d have an extra ticket.”

“As a matter of fact, I do. I’ve got to finish my column then make a Texas Taxi run, then a dozen of us are meeting for margaritas before the show.”

I finished my column and brought my cowboy friend with me as the bartender on the Texas Taxi run. I explained that we were meeting an executive coming in on a private jet at Love Field, and I instructed Butch on how to hand the executive a Lone Star longneck and say, “Welcome to Texas.”

We parked on the tarmac and watched the jet pull up. When the executive walked off the plane and saw our Texas Taxi, he started laughing. His co-workers had booked the car without his knowledge. Butch handed the guy a cold Lone Star longneck and tried to say, “Welcome to Texas.”

That’s when Butch found out we were picking up Jimmy Buffett. He almost had a heart attack.

Butch and I sat in the front. Buffett, his 2-year-old daughter, Savannah, and her nanny sat in the back seat. While driving to the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Butch pulled out his gourd rattle a Navajo friend had taught him how to make to ward off evil spirits. Butch rattled it and Savannah wanted to try. She shook it twice then slammed it into her dad’s forehead. I feared she had broken his nose. But he was OK, and we all got a good laugh out of it. (Whew!)

We dropped them off, returned the Texas Taxi and drove to Cabrito Cafe, Mariano Martinez’s restaurant on Knox Street. We all shared margaritas then headed to the concert. Butch and I rode with Mariano and his wife, Wanda.

The concert was fabulous. Buffett showed no effects from a gourd rattle to the forehead. It was my 20th time to see him in concert. When it was over Mariano asked us to stay seated until the crowd thinned out. When the seats were almost empty, he said that he had provided a margarita machine for the band, so he had four backstage passes. So we went to the post-concert reception with maybe 18 people. I saw Buffett and he remembered me. I introduced him to Mariano and said, “You know, you guys need to meet. The two of you have done more for the margarita than anyone alive. Jimmy, everyone knows “Margaritaville.” Well, Mariano invented the frozen margarita machine and has served more tequila than anyone in the world.”

When it was time to leave, we couldn’t find Butch. Finally, we found him in a dark corner of the room, making out with Savannah’s nanny. She had roped herself a real Texas cowboy.

I learned that day how Jimmy Buffett truly lived his life like a song. I’m grateful that he inspired me and my compadres — and millions of others — to do the same.

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One Response

  1. I was saddened to read of Col. Bill Woods’ passing. His last assignment before retiring from the Army was as medical advisor to my Army Reserve unit in Denver. We were both Medical Service Corps officers and frequently conversed, but the subject of fraternity membership never came up. It was after his retirement and relocation to Fort Collins and Colorado State that I learned that we were Brothers in the Bond. I wish I had known sooner.

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