The Hub has been just that, the center of campus and campus life, since its construction as the Dining Hall in 1930. By the 1960s, it housed the bookstore, post office, and coffee shop and grill known as Wimpy's and later Exit 13. Aspiring musicians often performed formally in the grill and more informally on the building''s porch or steps.
One evening in the early 1970s, a Southern Miss sophomore was, as he later recalled, "just wandering through The Hub,...and there was this guy with long blonde hair and a mustache playing...to about five little old ladies on break from their night class.” Captivated by the sounds he was hearing, the young man, who had recently been honing his own skills on the harmonica, asked if he could sit in on a number or two. "So we got up there,” he remembered, "and it was just sort of a chemistry, just one of those things."
The student was, as he came to be known, Greg "Fingers” Taylor, and the guitar-strumming singer was a recent Southern Miss grad named Jimmy Buffett. "The next day,” says Taylor, "I was driving him to his parents'' house in Mobile, the sun was coming up, and Jimmy was singing; there was a bonding that occurred there at that point; we knew that we were going to play music together somewhere down the line."
James William Buffett graduated with a Bachelor''s degree in 1969 and was an undergraduate member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity. In his days as a student, Buffett performed as a solo artist in Nat''s Nook, a coffee house in the old Student Union, now McLemore Hall, and later with a band called The Upstairs Alliance He went on to a spectacular career that included more than 30 albums, eight gold and nine platinum; awards from the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music; a Grammy nomination; five books three of which reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list; an entrepreneurial empire; and a legion of fans known as Parrot Heads. Taylor, who was a member of Buffett''s Coral Reefer Band from its origin in the mid-1970s until 2001, recorded more than half a dozen albums of his own. The two musicians, each a legend in his own right, did indeed "play music together...down the line,” but it all started here with a chance encounter at The Hub of The University of Southern Mississippi. Jimmy Buffett and Greg "Fingers" Taylor are inductees into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame.