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When a young Jimmy Buffett played Sangamon State University

UIS Archives

Still in its early days in 1974, the school located amid cornfields on the south end of Springfield welcomed a budding singer-songwriter who would later gain worldwide fame.

According to the site Concertarchives, Jimmy Buffett was on a Midwest swing during his 1974 acoustic tour. Small clubs and college campuses dot the show locations.

He was far from a household name at that time and still a few years away from his most well known hit "Margaritaville." His mix of folk, rock, country and calypso music had yet to break through.

He played Friday March 1, 1974, at the former Sangamon State University campus. It was a free show billed as part of a two night folk festival. Another artist was featured the following night.

The campus had only a few buildings at the time. This was before Sangamon Auditorium was constructed. The concert took place in Building D, at what was then the school's cafeteria.

It was a momentous occasion in the history SSU. So much that when the campus celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020, the concert was listed among the highlights.

Building D today.
NPR Illinois
Building D today.

After Springfield, Buffett would perform at Lantz Arena at Eastern Illinois University, the auditorium at Illinois Central College in East Peoria and the Foellinger Auditorium on the U of I's Urbana campus, according to a list of tour dates.

Buffett was starting to garner attention at this time. He released two albums in 1974, Living & Dying in 3/4 Time and A1A. They included some of the songs that would become concert staples in his long career including "Come Monday" and "Pencil Thin Mustache."

While no confirmed setlist of his shows at SSU exist, Concertarchives provides one from the previous month, which would be an indicator of songs in his rotation.

Buffett, 76, died Friday. His musical journey gained him a worldwide following with hits like "Margaritaville" and a personal fortune estimated at $1 billion. His career brought him a legion of fans .

But for those who remember the early days of SSU, which would go on to become the University of Illinois Springfield, Jimmy Buffett will always be part of the campus history.

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