Robert Hunter, Grateful Dead lyricist, dead at 78

He wrote the lyrics to Box Of Rain.

The poet, writer and guitarist responsible for some of the Grateful Dead’s most spellbinding lyrics, Robert Hunter, has passed away. He was 78.

“It is with great sadness we confirm our beloved Robert passed away yesterday night,” Hunter’s family said in a statement, per Rolling Stone. “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.”

Born Robert Burns in California, Hunter wrote the lyrics to Dead staples such as Box Of RainDark Star and China Cat Sunflower, among many others. He met Jerry Garcia in 1961, beginning a long relationship with the band – and although it wasn’t his first set of lyrics for the Dead, his work on the landmark recording Dark Star marked the de facto start of his role as the group’s lyricist.


Hunter also penned the lyrics for several tracks on Bob Dylan’s Down In The Groove and Together Through Life albums. Other artists he had collaborated with include Jim Lauderdale, Greg Anton and Steve Kimock. His success led to his induction – together with Garcia – in the Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame in 2015.

Listen to a live album of Hunter’s here: