Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter has died at the age of 78.
The esteemed poet, writer and solo musician passed away at his home last night (September 23). No cause of death has yet been revealed.
“It is with great sadness we confirm our beloved Robert passed away yesterday night,” Hunter’s family announced in a statement (via Rolling Stone). “He died peacefully at home in his bed, surrounded by love. 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.”
After joining the band in 1967, Hunter wrote the lyrics for Dead songs such as ‘Dark Star’, ‘Box of Rain’ and ‘Touch of Gray’. Hunter was already friends with the late Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia before he joined, with the two having met for the first time in 1961.
Hunter was inducted along with the Grateful Dead into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, becoming the first ever non-performer of a band to be inducted as a band member.
As well as releasing a number of solo records and poetry collections over the years, Hunter also worked with the likes of Elvis Costello, Bruce Hornsby and Bob Dylan. Hunter memorably worked on songs for the Dylan albums ‘Down in the Groove’ (1988), ‘Together Through Life’ (2009) and ‘Tempest’ (2012).
“He’s got a way with words and I do too,” Dylan once told Rolling Stone about Hunter. “We both write a different type of song than what passes today for songwriting.”