Robert Hunter, Grateful Dead’s poetic lyricist, dead at 78


Robert Hunter performs onstage at the Songwriters Hall Of Fame 46th Annual Induction and Awards in 2015 in New York.

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(CNN) — Robert Hunter, the man behind many of the Grateful Dead’s most iconic lyrics, died Monday night at the age of 78.

“It is with great sadness we confirm our beloved Robert passed away yesterday night,” Hunter’s family said in a statement obtained by several media outlets.

Members of the Grateful Dead wrote tributes to Hunter on social media, and David Lemieux, an archivist for the band, announced Hunter’s death in a statement on the band’s website.

“For a man who provided us with so many meaningful words, the soundtrack to our lives, he’s left us a bit speechless with his passing,” Lemieux wrote. “Robert Hunter has been just as integral a part of the legacy of the Grateful Dead as those who recorded the music to accompany his words.”

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart wrote on his Facebook page, “We loved Bob Hunter and will miss him unimaginably.”

Hart called Hunter a “visionary wordsmith extraordinaire” for the band. “The Grateful Dead was his canvas and together we made magic.”

Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir wrote on Twitter, “If I’m gonna count my blessings, Robert Hunter and his imagination are gonna be up at the top of that list. I think I can speak for a lot of people In saying that.”

CNN has attempted to reach Hunter’s family.

Hunter, who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015 with the Dead’s late frontman Jerry Garcia, contributed his first lyrics to the band in 1967.

The writer and poet collaborated with the Grateful Dead on songs ranging from “Friend of the Devil” and “Truckin'” to “Dark Star” and “Touch of Grey.”

According to the Songwriters Hall of Fame, “Though he never played on stage with the Dead, he was indeed a member.”

When the Grateful Dead was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, Hunter was with the band, becoming the only non-performing band member to garner such a honor.

Hunter leaves behind his wife Maureen, whom he married in 1982.

And he also leaves deep and rich legacy to millions of Grateful Dead devotees who’ve fallen in love with the band’s music over more than five decades.

“He explained the unexplainable and the words struck deep,” Hart wrote. “He spun the stories, and he now rides a carpet headed straight to Jerry.”

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