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Robert Hunter (1941–2019), Grateful Dead lyricist

Getty Images / Redferns / Ed Perlstein

Wrote lyrics for many Grateful Dead songs including “Dark Star” and “Truckin'”

Robert Hunter was a key lyricist for the Grateful Dead, contributing on most of their songs including “Dark Star,” “Friend of the Devil,” and “Truckin’.” His most famous lyric may be the line “What a long, strange trip it's been” from “Truckin’.” Hunter and Garcia met and became friends in 1961 and the pair would write most of the Grateful Dead’s songs. Later, Hunter collaborated on lyrics with Bob Dylan, Bruce Hornsby, Elvis Costello, and others. A musician and singer himself, he released solo albums and toured. His last tour came in 2013.

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Died: Monday, September 23, 2019 (Who else died on September 23?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 78.


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On writing his first lyrics for the Grateful Dead song “Dark Star”:  “What we were doing was almost sacred. The spirit of the times. … there was a time I felt this was the way the world would be going in a spiritual way, and we were an important part of that. I didn’t feel we were a pop music band. I wanted to write a whole different sort of music.” —Rolling Stone interview in 2015

What they said about him: “Robert Hunter is the man who always had the words to say for Jerry, so it is incredibly difficult to find the words to express the grief that our family and the entire Grateful Dead community are feeling at this moment.” —Jerry Garcia's family on Twitter

“RIP Robert Hunter. One of the all-time great lyricists. He had the rare ability to write folk-style lyrics in a way that actually sounded like they were already 100 years old.” —Music critic Steven
Hyden

“Robert Hunter’s lyrics for the Grateful Dead have meant more to me, and carried me through more good times and bad, than I could ever fully describe. Rest In Peace to a writer unmatched. Fare you well.” —Chicago Tribune Columnist Rex Huppke

“Fare Thee Well, Robert Hunter...  Thanks for all of the incredible lyrical journeys you took us on.” —The String Cheese Incident

Full obituary: New York Times

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