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A Good Life All the Way: The time Bob Liberman met the icy gusts of Key West

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Bob Liberman. Courtesy of Bob Liberman.

Got a nice note about the book from Bob Liberman the other day. If you’ve read Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way, you know Bob as Jimmy’s former tour manager and a hell of a storyteller. If you haven’t read the book (yet?), you might know Bob as his alter ego, Lip Balm, shouted out at the beginning of “The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful.”

So, Bob and I had a great lunch in Orlando when I was working on the book, and have kept in touch since. That’s him there on the left. I’ll use that photo forever if given the chance.

The guy’s really led an interesting life. He toured with Bob Dylan. He toured with Ted Nugent. He toured with a circus — and not just Buffett’s.

Through all those stories, there was one Buffett one I missed, because it never occurred to me to ask Liberman about this particular piece of Jimmy Buffett history. In December 1975, Buffett and the reasonably new Coral Reefer Band played Mallory Square in Key West. And however you imagine Key West, it wasn’t that way that night.

The wind kicked and it was cold as hell. “I got a cold that night that hung for three weeks,” Tom Corcoran told me. It’s in the book. But what isn’t — what I just found out — is that the concert rigging came down from Gainesville in a truck driving by Mr. Liberman. From his email:

I was working for the University of Florida at the time as their technical director. Jimmy had played numerous shows there before — and we got a call from JB asking to rent our sound and lights for the show … Well we drove down from Gainesville to Key West in a rented Ryder 26 ft.

“I remember driving this truck down the old Overseas Highway when it was only 2 lanes. At night in this big old truck! We made it to the Keys late and were told by Jimmy we would have these nice condos to stay in.

“We got to the address provided us and it was a dump. So we kept driving around thinking it’s a mistake. Nope those were the condos. The next day we set up on Mallory Square with a north wind blowing and around 45. So windy we couldn’t focus the lights. It was so cold by showtime I was operating a spotlight and was hugging that sucker all night to keep warm!”

Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way is available now from Touchstone.

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