Poet and writer Robert Hunter, best known for providing the lyrics for dozens of Grateful Dead songs, died Monday at age 78. Hunter’s family made the following statement to Rolling Stone:
It is with great sadness that we confirm the death of our dear Robert last night. He died peacefully at home in his bed, surrounded by love. His wife Maureen was at his side and was holding his hand. For fans who have loved and supported him for all these years, reassure him knowing that his words surround us and that, as a result, his words have never really disappeared. At this painful moment, celebrate as everyone knows, being together and listening to music. That there are songs to fill the air.
Robert C. Hunter was born June 23, 1941, in San Luis Obispo, California. Hunter met Jerry Garcia as teenagers and the couple performed together in several bluegrass and duet bands. Garcia formed The Warlocks, which quickly took the name of Grateful Dead, in 1965. Robert was present at the first concert of the Dead and tied with Garcia a writing relationship that lasted until the death of Jerry in 1995.
Hunter’s first contributions to the dead were the letters of “St. Stephen”, “China Cat Sunflower” and “Alligator”. Robert sent the letter to Jerry, who answered Hunter asking him to become the band’s songwriter. Hunter went on to write the lyrics of many of the group’s favorite classics, including “Uncle John’s Band”, “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo”, “Ripple”, “Truckin ‘”, “Friend Of The Devil”, “Black Muddy”. “River”, “The eyes of the world”, “Gray touch”, “Scarlet begonias” and “Franklin tower”.
Robert also played and participated in some solo tours, including one in 2014. After Garcia’s death, Hunter continued to write and contribute to the lyrics of artists such as Bob Dylan, 7 Walkers, Mickey Hart, Steve Kimock and The String Incident of cheese. In 2013, Robert received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Music Association and the following year he was included in the composer’s Hall of Fame.