Jimmy Buffett introduced Scott Nickerson to thousands of fans as “the guy who started the whole thing” during the November 2015, 24th annual Parrot Head convention in Key West. Scott stepped up on the stage and took his spot as the newest Coral Reefer behind the drum set for a one-song performance of “Margaritaville.” A dream come true for this talented musician.
In February of 1989, Scott set out to create the first Parrot Head Club. Made up of like-minded individuals who wanted to have fun as well as make an impact. Scott recalls “I didn’t know if it would hit or miss. We planned our first event to be on April 1st 1989, April Fools Day, thinking we would make it fun.” That first event brought in about 15 people. “We had a few beers, something to eat and made a plan.”
“In the beginning all we were doing was volunteering for different non-profits that had events going on. We took it upon ourselves to call charities and ask if they need people to get their hands dirty.” Soon, the Atlanta Parrot Head Club had around 300 members. Scott remembers “It just took off!” Jimmy Buffett’s people asked Scott to put together the guidelines for clubs and to create Parrot Heads In Paradise (PHIP) the parent organization. Soon they featured Scott and the Atlanta Parrot Head Club in the (now discontinued) Jimmy Buffett printed fan newsletter, the Coconut Telegraph. In the article, they published Scott’s phone number and he says his “phone was blowing up” with people wanting to know how to start a club in their area.
“The first serious person to contact me about starting a club was Jerry Diaz.” He really helped us solidify the guidelines. With around 20 chapters established in 1992, Jerry and Scott hatched the idea to have a Parrot Head convention. Scott says “I have to give Jerry all the recognition for the convention, I hardly had anything to do with it. Jerry came up with the name Meeting of the Minds, had all the connections in New Orleans for venues and he even made the t-shirts for that first year.”
Today, Parrot Head Clubs reach across the United States, into Canada and even Australia with approximately 30,000 registered members and we can all thank Scott for his vision. In asking Scott why he thinks Parrot Head Clubs have lasted 25 years, he says “it’s a good mix of having a good time, meeting new friends and helping the community. You can go out and drink, eat your cheeseburgers in paradise and do something worthwhile. And of course, there’s the music. It’s always been about the music.”