R.I.P., Robert Hunter

Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Robert Hunter

"What a long strange trip it must have been for Robert Hunter. Through his lyrics, he had the rare gift of creating a timeless world full of gamblers, travelers, lovers, losers, and lost souls… all brought to life by the Grateful Dead. Hunter’s poetic lyrics are as essential an element to the Grateful Dead’s magic as the music itself and will continue to endure for centuries to come. His words transcend time and space, evident in the fact they are still performed to crowds of hundreds of thousands to this day, over 50 years since he first became the band’s primary lyricist. My sincerest condolences go out to Maureen and Kate Hunter. Rest assured that we will make sure Hunter’s words continue to glow with the gold of sunshine.” - Mark Pinkus, President, Rhino 


The Grateful Dead has lost one of the most significant members of its family: Robert Hunter, the man whose friendship with Jerry Garcia led to a creative collaboration that spawned some of the band’s most beloved songs, including “Dark Star”, “Ripple,” “Truckin’” and many, many, many more.


Born on June 23, 1941 in Arroyo Grande, California, just outside of San Luis Obispo, Robert Burns – his last name changed when his mother remarried after his father deserted the family when Hunter was only seven years old – started honing his skills as a writer when he was still a child, but once he entered high school, he began to embrace his love of music, learning to play several instruments.  After graduating, he headed to the University of Connecticut, but after only a year, he opted to return to California, settling in Palo Alto, and it was there that he first met Jerry Garcia.


In the early ‘60s, Garcia and Hunter actually formed a short-lived duo called – appropriately enough – Bob and Jerry – but between Garcia outshining Hunter as a guitarist and Hunter having more interest in writing anyway, they broke up. There, there, don’t cry: you already know that they get back together and forge an even stronger relationship by embracing their respective creative strengths. Indeed, by the time The Grateful Dead recorded AOXOMOXOA, the Garcia / Hunter collaboration was so significant that they co-wrote every single song on the album together, and if there’s any question as to how important Hunter was to the Dead as their lyricist, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the band, the first non-performer ever to receive such an honor.


R.I.P., Robert. You were a true poet.

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