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Everything you need to know about the Conch Republic. Keep up on local events, nightlife and activities while in Key West.

A Brief History of Trop Rock and the Enduring Legacy of Jimmy Buffett

A Brief History of Trop Rock and the Enduring Legacy of Jimmy Buffett

April 30th, 2024 | Key West Events & Festivals

Waves crashing, roosters crowing, sand crunching underfoot - there are many sounds that are part of our daily lives here in Key West. Whether lounging on Smathers Beach, sipping a brew on the Key West Bight, or strolling down Duval Street, the iconic soundtrack of Key West always includes the smooth sounds of Trop Rock (short for Tropical Rock, also called Gulf and Western). Speakers all over the Conch Republic emanate the island-style genre, a laid-back mix of reggae, country, calypso, rock, and other musical genres. Key West just wouldn’t be Key West without it.

“If there's a heaven for me, I'm sure it has a beach attached to it” - Jimmy Buffett

No one else is more associated with this tropical sub-culture than Jimmy Buffett, one of Key West’s most beloved figures. Buffett certainly popularized the sound in the late 70s, and the genre has been carried on thanks to independent and crossover mainstream artists (like Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown, and Jack Johnson), Parrot Head Clubs around the world, and the annual Meeting of the Minds, a major gathering of diehard Buffett fans that, after several years in Key West, now meets in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

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What is Trop Rock?

There’s way more to Trop Rock than the music. It’s a lifestyle. Think beach, boating, and cold beverages. It’s a postcard of paradise, and Trop Rock is the soundscape. ‘Escapism’ was a common theme in Trop Rock from the 70s and 80s, and you’ll almost always hear instruments like the acoustic and steel guitar, steel drums, marimbas, and the congas.

No matter where you are in the world, you can tune in to island vibes all the time at Radio Margaritaville on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. The station is owned by the estate of Jimmy Buffett and plays everything from live albums to rare tracks, old gems, and previously recorded concerts.

 “If life gives you limes, make margaritas” - Jimmy Buffett

Ready to relax in Jimmy’s real-life Margaritaville? The Gates Hotel has put together some great Key West hotel deals designed to offer more than the rest. See which of our special offers works for you, and start planning your getaway today.

For more on Buffett, see our Jimmy Buffett Guide to Key West, where we cover everything from where to get the best “cheeseburger in paradise” to top margarita spots for you to consider “wasting away” at, and all the places Buffett lived, loved, and jammed while calling Key West “home.”



See what our past Parrot Head guests had to say about their stay at The Gates Hotel:

“Great place to stay. We were really pleased with this hotel…We enjoyed The Gates' beautiful pool and pool bar a lot…The free shuttle to and from town is a big plus… Starbucks in the 'sister' hotel next door is a plus…Big bonus - Jimmy Buffett was playing in town and the hotel livestreamed the concert on a huge screen on their lawn. Just seems like they'll go above and beyond if they can.” - Retireteacher603, TripAdvisor

“Definitely Staying Again!...We enjoyed some live poolside music at times, and visited the bar for lunch. We highly recommend the conch fritters! The large iguanas and roosters roam the pool side providing entertainment…Desk staff was always helpful...Our room was comfortable, and clean…Bed and pillows were really comfortable! We were so lucky to be able to enjoy the live stream on the lawn there for the Jimmy Buffett Concert. We enjoyed it better than going to the live version a couple of days prior.” - Foodie48867, TripAdvisor

“Key West getaway - Fins up! My wife and I stayed here for a weekend away, time to hit some warm weather! We were in town for the Jimmy Buffett concert. The property did not disappoint at all! Staff was great, clean resort, food was great at both properties (24 North Hotel next door)! Bartenders were great along with the shuttle service. Will definitely stay here again in the future!” - Brian R, TripAdvisor