The origin of the Parrot Head goes all the way back to June 28, 1985. One of Jimmy Buffett's former Coral Reefer Band members, Timothy B. Schmit, gave birth to the phrase What is a Parrot Head at a concert held at the Timberwolf Amphitheater in Cincinnati, OH. Jimmy Buffett was noticing that an overwhelming amount of his concert goers were wearing tropical clothing and parrots on their heads. After seeing that enough times, the term was born by Timothy when he called them all Parrot Heads on a whim.
A Parrot Head simply refers to someone who is a fan of Jimmy Buffett's music and lifestyle that he promotes....and they are EVERYWHERE!
Flocking around and enjoying life, these crazy hat wearing folks are always smiles from ear to ear. For someone like me who is a big Jimmy Buffett fan, I thought that Parrot Heads were known by all, even to those that don't sing about trying to find their lost shaker of salt. After all, Jimmy Buffett has been on the scene since the 1970's and the term came out in the 1980's. So everyone should know who or what they are, right? I mean really, who would dare ask "What is a Parrot Head"? Sad to say my fellow Island Jay followers, but you would be wrong like me to think this question answers itself.
So what was the epiphany that I had to realize I was being naive? To think that asking this question is akin to asking "What is a Coke"? My lovely wife Tina, was asked by one of her Floridian co-workers "What is a Parrot Head?" after a Jimmy Buffett concert came through town. When Tina told me the story I was beside myself, along with a matching face palm. A Florida raised 40 something year old female living 5 miles from Clearwater Beach was asking this kind of question? BLASPHEMY, I SAY!
However, they are not some "crazy person" dressed up in a colorful outfit. The group is a true melting pot of all ethnic backgrounds and professions. From bartenders to someone that just passed the bar exam, it is not uncommon to see a professor or doctor donning a hat full of bird feathers and handing out drinks at a Jimmy Buffett concert.
You could very easily see them at a Kenny Chesney or Zac Brown Band event. Even fellow Island Jay writer, Matt Hoggatt, has been known to have a few show up to his events.
There is another side of the lifestyle that is truly amazing. With the approval of Jimmy Buffett, clubs and organizations were allowed to be formed, but under one condition. All groups must be a non profit charitable organization. This could include charity events or anything that gives back to a local community. From this spawned many organizations. Scratch that. It's more like hundreds of organized groups around the planet. One of the biggest are the Parrot Heads in Paradise, whom are worth checking out. So in a different sense, the groups also do good things for the community.
Chances are you know a one or two. When the time strikes, they open up their closets at home, put on their best tropical t-shirt and place a stuffed parrot on their head. They load up the car with a blender, grill, food, and set up camp many hours before a well anticipated Jimmy Buffett concert. The best part? A true Parrot Head is also generous, often sharing what they bring with their fellow flockers.
Just join them at any organized event and you will see why we all love this lifestyle. If you see a few Parrot Heads in their natural environment tailgating at a Jimmy Buffett concert, why not join them. You may get tossed a tropical concoction and a cheeseburger, too!