Robert Hunter, the man behind the poetic and mystical words for many of Grateful Dead’s most beautiful songs, died at the age of 78.
Hunter died Monday at his home in Northern California with his wife, Maureen, at his side, former Grateful Dead publicist Dennis McNally told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The family did not report a cause of death.
“We loved Bob Hunter and will be unimaginable,” Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart said, adding that the author was “an extraordinary wordsmith visionary.” “
Although competent on a number of instruments including guitar, violin, cello and trumpet, the Hunter never appeared on stage with the Grateful Dead, during the 30 years that ended with the 1995 death of guitarist Jerry Garcia, his main partner of the song.
When he got the band involved, the concerts, he was happy to stand on the side of the stage or, better yet, sit anonymous in the audience. It was in this last place, he told The Associated Press in 2006, he got his biggest compliment of the song, from a man who had no idea who he was.
“He turned to me at the” Cumberland Blues “and said,” I wonder what the guy who wrote this song a hundred years ago thinks that if he knew that the Grateful Dead was do it, “he recalled, referring to the colorful story of miserable American gold seekers.
Other most memorable Hunter’s of the Grateful Dead songs include “There’s Got the Roses,” “Terrapin Station,” “The Days Between,” “Brown Eyed Women,” “Jack Straw,” The Devil’s Friend, “” Rainy Zone “,” Uncle John’s Band “and” Muddy Black River. “
Although the man who spoke to him during “Cumberland Blues” could not know, he perfectly captured Hunter is the composition of the shine contained in all of these songs: the ability to develop lyrics that sounded so much timeless that listeners have the certainty that they had heard of them before. It was a skill, it matched perfectly with a great knowledge of racing topics from the range of classics from literature to street life, which in turn allowed him to authoritatively write about everyone from from the map of sharks and scammers to dirt poor farmers and free-spirited lovers.
All these stories that he seasoned with a poetic skill of some would say rivaled that of Bob Dylan, with whom he sometimes collaborated.
“He has a sense of the formula and I do it too,” Dylan told Rolling Stone magazine in 2009. “We’ve written a different kind of song than what’s happening today for the composition. “
“There was no one like Bob Hunter and there will never be,” Hart said Tuesday. “He explains the inexplicable and the words struck deep inside. “
“Truckin ‘,” presumably the Hunter and the best-known group of the song (and one containing the memorable line, “What a long, strange trip of the summer”) was designated National Treasure in 1997 by the Library of Congress.
In more than a dozen verses, he writes a column that tells the adventures of a tour band, among them, the Grateful Dead, 1970 bust drug, after a concert in New Orleans: “Burst, Down on the Rue de Bourbon. Set up, like a bowlin ‘pin. Reversed. It happens to wearin ‘end. “
Another song, “Ripple,” which was set for a beautiful melody melody that Garcia composed on guitar, contains the lines Hunter once said he was most proud of: “reach out, if your empty cup. If your cup is full, it may be new. To make known, there is a fountain. That was not done by the hands of men. “
Once asked by The Associated Press, who his influences were, he laughed and replied that, “just to throw people away,” he often came across both the 19th century theatrical composition of the Gilbert and Sullivan’s team and American folk music balladeer Woody Guthrie.
After a moment of reflection, he added more seriously, “In fact, it’s pretty close to the truth. “
Other influencers included novelists James Joyce, John Steinbeck and Hans Christian Andersen, the musician Josh White and the traditional European ballads released by American folklorist Francis James Child.
Birth of Robert Burns on June 23, 1941, Hunter was 7 when his father abandoned him and his mother, which led him to spend several years in foster homes. It was an experience that he said was emotionally marked and left him with the feeling of always someone from the outside.
When he was 11, his mother married McGraw-Hill publishing executive Norman Hunter, who gave the boy a new name and appreciation for those peerless writers like William Saroyan, TS Elliot.
Hunter played with becoming a novelist himself, but the music called and by his last year of high school he was playing the trumpet in a Dixieland-rock fusion. He attended the University of Connecticut for a year, where he studied drama, became a fan Pete Seeger and turned his interest in folk music.
He met Garcia in 1960, at a production of the musical “Damn Yankees”, launched by a former girlfriend who was then Garcia with his first wife. The pair quickly formed a duet folk band called Bob and Jerry.
The two homeless for a time, they lived off their cars, parking side by side in a Palo Alto, California, on a vacant lot. They survived these days, said later, eating tinned pineapple cans hunter had stolen from a military facility during his brief time in the National Guard.
Hunter had moved to New Mexico by time Garcia, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Ron “Porcherie” McKernan had formed the Grateful Dead. Hart would join soon after.
When Garcia asked him to send him some long lyrics that could be set to music Hunter quickly reacted to the future, Grateful Dead, “China’s Classic Sunflower Cat” and “Saint-Etienne.” Garcia then asked him to return to San Francisco Bay and write for the band.
Eventually, Hunter wrote for all members of the group, and when the Grateful Dead was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, he was included in the lyricist.
He and Garcia were inducted into the Hall of Fame and Composers in 2015.
Over the years, Hunter has published nearly a dozen albums of his own, has published several volumes of poetry and co-wrote songs from Dylan. He has also published two books on the translation of the works of the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke.
“Bob was an intellectual and I can not tell you that there are a lot of intellectuals in rock and roll business. But Bob was an intellectual, “Barry’s longtime friend Barry” The Fish “Melton of Country Joe and the Fish said by phone from Paris on Tuesday.