Grateful Dead Lyricist Robert Hunter Dead at 78

Robert Hunter, the lyricist who penned many of the Grateful Dead's songs has died at the age of 78.

No cause of death was given.

In a statement, Hunter's family announced the sad news, saying:

“It is with great sadness we confirm our beloved Robert passed away yesterday night. He died peacefully at home in his bed, surrounded by love. His wife Maureen was by his side holding his hand."

They continued, "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.”

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Robert Hunter in 1977. Image: Getty

Meeting Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia in 1961, Hunter joined his electric rock group called the Warlocks -- which later became the Grateful Dead -- but instead decided to focus on penning lyrics, which led to his bandmates labelling him as "the band member that doesn’t come on stage with us".

Hunter’s most well-known songs include “Dark Star,” “Uncle John’s Band” and  “Touch of Grey.”

According to Rolling Stone, Hunter also collaborated with Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan, with Dylan once saying, “He’s got a way with words and I do too. We both write a different type of song than what passes today for songwriting.”

Robert Hunter in 1977. Image: Getty

In 2013, with medical bills piling up following a spinal abscess the year before, Hunter embarked on his final solo tour.

“I’m always glad that people are still out there performing the stuff, and the closer they are to the origination, the better,” he told Rolling Stone at the time.

“There will be a time when there aren’t any of the originators left.”

Hunter is survived by his wife, Maureen, his three children, Kate, Charlotte and Jess Hunter, as well as several grandchildren.

Image: Getty