First and most important, today, I mourn with all “Parrot Heads,” upon the sad the news of the passing of Jimmy Buffett at the age of 76 years old.

"Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs," read the announcement on his website and social media. "He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many."

After proper reflection about Buffett and his incredible life … memories flooded back about the day that Jimmy Buffett and The Coral Reefer Band played a free Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City beach concert on June 15, 2013.

I just spoke with Tom Cantone, President of Sports & Entertainment of MGE, the corporate entity of Mohegan Sun and Mark Giannantonio, President and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel about the news of Buffet’s passing.

They both send their deepest sympathies to Jimmy’s family and all “Parrot Heads” everywhere.

Cantone and I talked at length about this incredible day in Atlantic City that came together, with a little magic from Cantone.

I asked Tom if he wouldn’t mind sharing the real story behind this magical beach concert that came together more than a decade ago.

Tom was very accommodating.

“The story goes we booked his band, called the coral reefers, to open Margaritaville... with the hope he would show up as he often does, since he was too expensive to book individually, sure enough, he shows up and performs what is now an historic Atlantic City concert on the beach,” said Cantone.

There is only one way to properly tell this unlikely story and that is from Tom Cantone, himself … the man who wrote the book, titled “Tom Cantone “Book’Em, From The Man Who Revolutionized Casino Entertainment.”

Tom Cantone relived the whole story with us, which is detailed in his book pages 238 and 239 of “Book’Em.”

It’s a truly amazing story … when big things can happen and everything goes your way … even things that you have no control of.

“It was one for the record books and it was the biggest live casino concert dates I ever booked. Some 75,000 people packed the beach for a free concert on June 15, 2013 in conjunction with the opening of Jimmy Buffet’s Magaritaville at Resorts Casino. It was also my homecoming of sorts. I left "AC" some 15 year earlier to go to Connecticut where I have been for exactly the same amount o years now. Hard to believe I've been in this business for 30 years,” said Cantone.

Imagine if Cantone could have publicized that Buffett would actually be there performing?

“The real story of this day started with a phone call from Mitchell Etess, President of Mohegan Sun Gaming Authority, who called me some four months earlier with an idea to celebrate the opening of Margaritaville and if we could get Jimmy Buffett and other artists to perform. The last time this was done was in 1985 when the Beach Boys performed. Even though Buffett was part of the new restaurant, it would be a long shot to get him to perform with all the complexities of his touring schedule and commitments. Usually, they just come in for a brief ribbon cutting, take photos and leave, said Cantone.

“My assignment was to get him to perform even if I had to offer big money, which I did. As I predicted, he took a pass to perform but understandably so with his busy schedule. But, as I've mentioned before in this book, my motto in life is - "There's Always A Way" .. We wanted an entire day of entertainment, so I booked opening acts to get things going. But like a lightning bolt, I remembered that Mac McAnally is in Jimmy Buffett's Coral Refer Band and he also is a solo artist on Buffett's record label as well. My plan was to book Mac in the hopes that he would invite Buffett to jam with him for a few songs. It worked!! We got a call that Jimmy Buffett would be performing with Mac, not just to jam, but to do an entire 90 minute concert set - for FREE. That topped off a lineup of Andy Grammer (the first male pop star since John Mayer to reach Top 10 on his first two singles), Mac McAnally (Country music's Musician of the Year four years running) and Wilson Phillips (with three number one hits and all the Beach Boys history),” said Cantone.

“The deal was, we were not allowed to promote Jimmy Buffett’s  appearance but could only say "Plus A Surprise Special Guest Appearance" the week before the event. Speculation was running wild that it was going to be Buffett. With 48 hours to go, they finally allowed us to promote his name and the word spread instantly over social media. It was a game changer for Resorts and Atlantic City who have both suffered horrible PR over the years with nothing but negative news especially with Hurricane Sandy hitting the Jersey Shore. But not this day, said Cantone.

“Suddenly it was the weather that soon became my biggest worry. There was a huge storm system coming across the nation called a DeRecho, a storm that's over 250 miles long leaving havoc in its wake. It hit the east coast the day before the beach concert but had it struck just one day later, four months of planning would have cancelled what the Philly News called "A Major Coup" to get Buffett,” said Cantone.

“Mother Nature was on our side this time and by Friday night cars and RV’s started to drive in and by 7 AM thousands of people were setting up their spots on the beach. The weather was a perfect 10. Sunny and warm all day - the beautiful day on the beach with a calm ocean was already in the books,” said Cantone.

”All the acts performed as planned from 1 PM to 9 PM that night. We had expected 10,000 people to show up but instead over 75,000 jammed the beach and the famed Boardwalk. It was like old times. People I hadn’t seen in 15 years dropped by - old friends became new again with a new spirit of excitement and hope for AC,” said Cantone.

I remember calling Cantone and Giannantonio to appear on-air with me when I said that this is one of the largest and most successful events in Atlantic City history, and that Tom Cantone is the most prolific and successful entertainment marketing senior executive in the history of AC and Connecticut.

“I was humbled by Harry’s claim and it did play to the excitement of the moment. That's why I always feel that when you can "create" a date rather than book a date, it's more meaningful. Slot revenues more than doubled at Resorts Casino that day, not to mention garnering some 126 million media impressions which doesn't even include the millions of social media and national news it received. Final slot revenue for June was up 13%, the best performance among the 12 casinos there,” said Cantone.

What an incredible story. My thanks and appreciation to Tom Cantone and Mark Giannantonio for giving me the opportunity to tell it.

Look at this great Don P. Hurley photo (below) … you can see how happy Jimmy Buffett was to be at Resorts Casino Hotel.

Don captured a great memory.

Don P. Hurley photo.
Don P. Hurley photo.

Here is Jimmy Buffet & Mark Giannantonio at another Resorts Casino Hotel event.

Mark Giannantonio photo.
Mark Giannantonio photo.

Giannantonio below, with Cantone to the right.

Resorts Casino Hotel photo.
Resorts Casino Hotel photo.

Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City owner Morris Bailey had a special relationship with Buffett, as you can imagine with the comprehensive Margaritaville operation and partnership at Resorts Casino Hotel.


Atlantic City, NJ- The Resorts Casino Hotel team is deeply saddened by the passing of Jimmy Buffet.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and loyal fans worldwide. Our partnership with the Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville brand is an integral part of our property and we will forever feel his vigor of living life to the fullest. His infectious spirit, iconic music and adoration of beach life will never be forgotten and will continue to be celebrated at our property. In the words of Jimmy Buffet, "If there is a heaven for me, I'm sure it has a beach attached."

Resorts Casino Hotel has partnered with the iconic Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville brand for 10 years. In 2013, more than $35 million was spent to open the Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville themed entertainment complex with the only beach bar, Landshark Bar and Grill, on the Atlantic City sand open year - round. Jimmy Buffet celebrated the opening of the complex with a free beach concert on June 15, 2013.

"One of the most exciting days of my career, was when Jimmy Buffet performed to over 75,000 crazy fans here on the beach in front of Resorts. The atmosphere was electric - I still remember that feeling. I am very saddened to hear of his passing," said Mark Giannantonio, CEO and President of Resorts Casino Hotel.

Morris Bailey, owner of Resorts Casino Hotel, had this to say about his passing. "Not only was Jimmy a friend, but one of my favorite business partners.

Our Atlantic City collaboration, bringing Margaritaville to Resorts, was one of my all-time favorite business ventures. Jimmy's kind is rare and not only did he have true talent and passion as an artist, but also as an entrepreneur. He truly cared about his fans. No matter what, he always found joy in life. I will miss him. "

Fins up forever.

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