Robert Hunter, the man behind the words for many of the Grateful Dead’s finest songs, has died at age 78.
The Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart said Hunter died on Monday at his northern California home. The cause of death was not disclosed.
“It is with great sadness we confirm our beloved Robert passed away yesterday night,” Hunter’s family announced in a statement. “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 he 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.”
Although proficient on a number of instruments including guitar, violin, cello and trumpet, Hunter never appeared on stage with the Grateful Dead. “I had my choice,” he said in 2015. “I had my go at that and it didn’t work for me.”
Instead he was content to stay in the background and let his written words speak for him during the band’s 30-year run that ended with the 1995 death of guitarist Jerry Garcia.
Hunter’s songs included Truckin’, Uncle John’s Band, Box of Rain and Ripple. He also collaborated with Bob Dylan and others, including Hart and other members of the Grateful Dead.
“I was basically a maverick and a rebel’s rebel even among the Dead,” he said to Rolling Stone in 2015.