Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter who wrote the hit songs Dark Star and Ripple dies at age 78

Musician, lyricist and poet Robert Hunter died Monday night at the age of 78, his family announced.  

The artist is best known for his work with the rock band the Grateful Dead, though he also collaborated with Bruce Hornsby and Bob Dylan.  

The family released a statement that said, in part, ‘It is with great sadness we confirm our beloved Robert passed away yesterday night.’

Rest in peace: Musician, lyricist and poet Robert Hunter died Monday night at the age of 78, his family announced; seen in 1976 in San Rafael, California

Rest in peace: Musician, lyricist and poet Robert Hunter died Monday night at the age of 78, his family announced; seen in 1976 in San Rafael, California

Rest in peace: Musician, lyricist and poet Robert Hunter died Monday night at the age of 78, his family announced; seen in 1976 in San Rafael, California

Hunter died peacefully at home surrounded by family and his wife Maureen holding his hand, the statement from his family said. 

The message 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.’

The family encouraged fans to celebrate his life by listening to the music that he dedicated his life to making. ‘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.’

In Marin County: Hunter poses in front of a Blues For Allah backdrop at the Grateful Dead's rehearsal studio, Club Front, in November 1977 in San Rafael

In Marin County: Hunter poses in front of a Blues For Allah backdrop at the Grateful Dead's rehearsal studio, Club Front, in November 1977 in San Rafael

In Marin County: Hunter poses in front of a Blues For Allah backdrop at the Grateful Dead’s rehearsal studio, Club Front, in November 1977 in San Rafael

In his nearly 50 year career Hunter penned over 20 songs for the Grateful Dead and often collaborated with lead guitarist Jerry Garcia. 

His work with the counterculture band began in the early 1960’s, sending the band lyrics before knowing them.

He quickly penned some of their most famous songs, China Cat Sunflower, Dark Star and Ripple, among others. 

Notable: Hunter is most known for his work with the rock band the Grateful Dead, for which he was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, though he also collaborated heavily with Bob Dylan

Notable: Hunter is most known for his work with the rock band the Grateful Dead, for which he was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, though he also collaborated heavily with Bob Dylan

Notable: Hunter is most known for his work with the rock band the Grateful Dead, for which he was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, though he also collaborated heavily with Bob Dylan

Of their work he said ‘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,’ according to Rolling Stone.

His favorite line was in Ripple, he told the magazine  ‘Ripple: “Let it be known there is a fountain that was not made by the hands of men.”’ 

Along with Garcia he was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2015. 

He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association in 2013. 

Heyday: In his nearly 50 year career Hunter penned over 20 songs for the Grateful Dead and often collaborated with lead guitarist Jerry Garcia. His work with the counterculture band began in the early 1960's, sending the band lyrics before knowing them (band pictured in 1980)

Heyday: In his nearly 50 year career Hunter penned over 20 songs for the Grateful Dead and often collaborated with lead guitarist Jerry Garcia. His work with the counterculture band began in the early 1960's, sending the band lyrics before knowing them (band pictured in 1980)

Heyday: In his nearly 50 year career Hunter penned over 20 songs for the Grateful Dead and often collaborated with lead guitarist Jerry Garcia. His work with the counterculture band began in the early 1960’s, sending the band lyrics before knowing them (band pictured in 1980)

Celebrate: The family encouraged fans to celebrate his life by listening to the music that he dedicated his life to making. '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'; in 2001

Celebrate: The family encouraged fans to celebrate his life by listening to the music that he dedicated his life to making. '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'; in 2001

Celebrate: The family encouraged fans to celebrate his life by listening to the music that he dedicated his life to making. ‘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’; in 2001

After his work with the band lyrically ended in 1995 after Garcia’s death, he went on to open for their tour in 2004. 

His most prominent collaborator then became Bob Dylan. He co-wrote songs on Dylan’s 1988 album Down in the Groove, his 2009 album Together Through Life and his 2012 album Tempest. 

Of Hunter the Blowin in the Wind crooner said ‘He’s got a way with words and I do too….He’s the only guy I work with who I give the liberty to change things. After all, he is who he is.’

Decades together: He is survived by his wife Maureen, whom he married 1982, she was holding his hand when he died; seen in 2015

Decades together: He is survived by his wife Maureen, whom he married 1982, she was holding his hand when he died; seen in 2015

Decades together: He is survived by his wife Maureen, whom he married 1982, she was holding his hand when he died; seen in 2015

Hunter went on tour solo as recently as 2013 and said ‘I’m always glad that people are still out there performing the stuff, and the closer they are to the origination, the better… There will be a time when there aren’t any of the originators left.’

Hunter, who was born in Oceano, California in 1941, also worked with Elvis Costello, Jim Lauderdale and Dead drummer Mickey Hart, outside of also doing solo work.

He is survived by his wife Maureen, whom he married 1982.  

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