For some, being called a “parrot head” might seem insulting, like a knucklehead or a birdbrain. Someone might question their hairstyle or nose shape at the accusation, but for the over 25,000 members of a club devoted to the music and seaside-lifestyle of singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett, it’s a badge of honor.
Parrot Heads, started as a few clubs forming back in the early ’90s as a means by which to share a common interest, has become an international phenomenon that has not only gathered like-minded folks but has also established itself as a reputable fundraising machine for a host of charities.
From 2002 through 2006 the Parrot Heads boast collecting over $10.5 million and almost 1.8 million volunteer hours for local and national charities. But with such benevolence, the main theme within the group is always simply getting together, listening to music, drinking margaritas and relaxing.
“I realized I needed to get more fun stuff in my daily life and started looking about for some group that wasn’t affiliated with anything heavy-duty, like politics, religion, illnesses — you know, the thousand gnawing events of any typical news day in our life and times,” said local chapter secretary Phyllis Mortimer. “I’d actually chatted with Jimmy Buffett on Ventura Boulevard one day at a stoplight a couple of years before and of course I’d heard of the Parrot Heads for years.
“So when I got to mulling over what might be fun — I wasn’t into square dancing, gyms, and bar-flying — I recalled my encounter with Jimmy and started Googling around. I discovered RadioMargaritaville and then — through PHiP [Parrot Heads in Paradise] located the L.A. club.”
The Los Angeles chapter will be celebrating St. Paddy’s Day Saturday, March 8th, at the Warehouse Restaurant in Marina del Rey, a favorite spot for them.
When they’re not singing along to Buffett at a concert somewhere or volunteering for a charity, Parrot Heads can usually be found at a bar overlooking a bunch of boats singing along with a band covering Buffett tunes.
“There’s been too many good times to count,” says a smiling Scott Sperber, membership director of the L.A. chapter.ÝEvery day with Parrot Heads is a new thrill ride. It’s the love and enjoyment of the philosophy of island life, sun, sand, wind and waves that keeps me coming back.
“Just being able to be with a group of friends or an individual and knowing that you have so much in common — it’s not about the parrots or the swaying palm trees — it is about all the great friends that we have come to be.”
Boaters have always made up a solid contingent of the Parrot Head force. Many Buffett songs speak to the sailing lifestyle and there is nary a boat at any anchorage that doesn’t have some of his tunes in the CD rack.
“My love of Jimmy Buffett music and the lifestyle incorporated in the music brought me to this group,” said eight-year member Audrey Plasky. “We bought a sailboat, began to travel to the islands and just had to become Parrot Heads. The best decision we’ve made!”