Grateful Dead Lyricist Robert Hunter Dies At 78


Robert Hunter, who provided many of the words in songs by the Grateful Dead, died Monday. He was 78.

“He died peacefully at home in his bed, surrounded by love,” read a statement issued by his family. “His wife Maureen was by his side holding his hand.

“For his fans that have loved and supported him all these years, take comfort in knowing that his words are all around us, and in that way his is never truly gone.  In this time of grief please celebrate him the way you all know how, by being together and listening to the music. Let there be songs to fill the air.”

A cause of death was not immediately disclosed.

"There was only one Robert Hunter. Thankfully there are hundreds of songs that will live on – a part of him that became part of us,” said the Dead’s Warren Haynes, who shared a lengthy tribute on Twitter.

Hunter’s lyrics were in Dead tracks from “China Cat Sunflower” and “Dark Star” to “Touch of Gray” and “Scarlet Begonias.”

It was apt that Hunter was so gifted with words because he shared a birth name with Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns. He and Jerry Garcia met in 1961 and played together in bluegrass bands but Hunter later focused on writing.

Hunter drew inspiration from his use of mind-altering substances, including LSD, speed and meth.

Garcia invited him to join the Grateful Dead as lyricist.

“Robert Hunter is the man who always had the words to say for Jerry, so it is incredibly difficult to find the words to express the grief that our family and the entire Grateful Dead community are feeling at this moment,” read a statement from Garcia’s estate.

“He has filled our lives with the words we share in song, in friendship, in love and now in grief. Our deepest condolences to the Hunter family and to our entire community.”

Hunter also wrote lyrics for artists like Bob Dylan, Bruce Hornsby and Elvis Costello. He also recorded several albums of his own and occasionally played live – including during a 2013 tour he did to cover the cost of medical bills. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015.

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