(CelebrityAccess) — Robert Hunter, the poet, singer-songwriter and lyricist who helped to bring the music of the Grateful Dead to life, died on Monday night. He was 78.
A statement provided to Rolling Stone by Hunter’s family said: “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. 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.”
While he never performed on stage with the Grateful Dead, Hunter played a key role in the band’s success, penning some of their most memorable lyrics in the band’s repertoire, including “Dark Star,” “Uncle John’s Band,” “Touch of Gray,” “Friend Of The Devil,” and “Ripple.”
Hunter first met Garcia in 1961 while playing in bluegrass groups and jug bands with Hunter on mandolin and upright bass. However, Hunter declined an offer to join a group Garcia was assembling in order to follow his ambition as a writer.
While he wasn’t a performing member of the group, Hunter began providing lyrics for the Dead, including for their third studio album “Aoxomoxoa” and singles such as “Dark Star” eventually becoming an unofficial member of the group and a lyricist in residence.
Over the course of his career, Hunter worked with other artists, including co-writing songs with Bob Dylan, and Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers. He also teamed up with David Nelson, to write lyrics for many of the songs on the New Riders of the Purple Sage 2009 album “Where I Come From.”
He also pursued a solo career, releasing 9 studio albums, including “Jack O’Roses” and “Tiger Rose” but failed to achieve widespread success.
In 2015, Hunter and Garcia were inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, with Hunter performing a rendition of “Ripple” at the awards ceremony. In 2013, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association in recognition of his contribution to music.
In 2013, he was also forced to go on his final solo tour in order to help pay medical bills.
According to Rolling Stone, Hunter is survived by his wife Maureen, who he married in 1982.