A new bridge is in development for I-10’s “Bayway” between Mobile and Baldwin Counties of Alabama. I am starting a citizen movement to officially name the new bridge, “The Jimmy Buffett Bayway.”
Jimmy Buffett worked and lived both sides of Mobile Bay – Mobile County and Baldwin County.
Mobile: Buffett grew up in mid-town Mobile, graduating high school from “McGill Institute,” now McGill-Toolen. His first musical performances were as a trombone player in the McGill band. To purloin a phrase, he was “unsung.”
Some early days as a singer and guitarist were at The Admiral’s Corner, the bar at the corner of Government Street and Joachim Street in the famous Admiral Semmes Hotel. He mostly played for Mobile friends and a few hotel guests. He earned $5.00 a night plus tips.
Buffett had a difficult time then getting the popular local radio station, WABB, to play his early records.
That experience resulted in a Buffett song and recording that also did not get much air play. His WABB song was such a non-hit that I can’t find the title of it on Google or Wikipedia. That is a real non-hit.
Buffett’s parents lived during most of their working careers in Mobile.
Baldwin County: Buffett’s parents, James Sr. and Peets Buffett, moved to the Eastern Shore of Baldwin County and enjoyed the sunsets and Jubilees in their sunset years.
Buffett’s first known recording sessions were at a small, struggling studio in Baldwin County’s Daphne.
Buffett would often headquarter in Baldwin County with his parents or his sister Lucy Buffett (Lulu) in frequent visits home.
He never forgot where he came from. Living and working in New Orleans, Nashville, Key West, the Caribbean, and in the sea and air (he was a pilot), he gravitated home to the Alabama Gulf Coast.
Jimmy Buffett was generous with his time and money.
He anonymously donated two vintage World War II aircraft to the Battleship Alabama Park, on the Mobile/Baldwin line. He performed dozens of impromptu, unpaid sets at Buffett-ambianced spots in Baldwin County – Lulu’s (a Gulf Shores restaurant owned by his sister, Lucy Buffett); Judge Roy Bean’s (owned by Buffett friend Jack West); the Hangout; and fundraisers after hurricane damage.
Both sides of Mobile Bay claim Buffett.
It is altogether fitting that the new I-10 Bayway bridge be named after the man who brought people together. His music will continue to bring people together.
The word “Bayway” needs to be in the bridge’s name because there is a tiny “Buffett Bridge” in Buffett’s birthplace of Pascagoula, Mississippi. The new I-10 bridge will be an eight-mile long, tall tribute to a huge star who fell on Alabama.
I will file a written request with ALDOT (Alabama Department of Transportation) and with the state legislature to officially name the bridge, “The Jimmy Buffett Bayway.”
Jim Zeigler is a former State Auditor of Alabama. In 2019, he organized a 55,000-member citizen group that blocked a toll charge on the I-10 Bayway.