Robert Hunter (lyricist) Biography
Robert Hunter (lyricist) born Robert C. Hunter is an American lyricist, singer-songwriter, translator, and poet, best known for his work with the Grateful
Dead. He was born Robert Burns in Oceano, California. In a 1973 Rolling Stone profile of the Grateful Dead, Charles Perry reported that he is a great-great-grandson of noted Romantic poet Robert Burns.
Robert Hunter (lyricist) Age
Robert Hunter (lyricist) is an American lyricist, singer-songwriter, translator, and poet, best known for his work with the Grateful Dead was born on born June 23, 1941.
Robert Hunter (lyricist) Height
Information concerning his height is still under research and will soon be updated when we come across details concerning his height.
Robert Hunter (lyricist) Family
He was born Robert Burns in Oceano, California. In a 1973 Rolling Stone profile of the Grateful Dead, Charles Perry reported that he is a great-great-grandson of noted Romantic poet Robert Burns. An early friend of Jerry Garcia, they played together in bluegrass bands (such as the Tub Thumpers) in the early sixties, with Hunter on mandolin and upright bass.
Robert Hunter (lyricist) Education
Information concerning his educational background is still under research and will soon be updated when we come across details concerning his education.
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Robert Hunter (lyricist) Career
He was paid to take LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline and report on his experiences, which were creatively formative for him: “Sit back picture yourself swooping up a shell of purple with foam crests of crystal drops soft nigh they fall into the sea of morning creep-very-softly mist…and then sort of cascade tinkly-bell-like (must I take you by the hand, every so slowly type) and then conglomerate suddenly into a peal of silver vibrant uncomprehendingly, blood singingly, joyously resounding bells….By my faith, if this is insanity, then for the love of God permit me to remain insane.”
The first lyrics he wrote for the Grateful Dead were composed while on LSD and mailed to the band from Arizona: a suite that would later become “China Cat Sunflower”/”The Eleven” (these were performed together for a short time). “China Cat Sunflower” would later find a partner in “I Know You Rider”. After battling moderate drug addiction, he joined the Grateful Dead on the first weekend in September 1967, at four gigs in Rio Nido, California. That weekend he wrote the first verse of “Dark Star”.
Hunter’s relationship with the band grew until he was officially a non-performing band member. When the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, Hunter was included as a band member, the only non-performer ever so honored. The majority of the Grateful Dead’s original songs are Hunter/Garcia collaborations, with music by Garcia and lyrics by Hunter.
Garcia once described Hunter as “the band member who doesn’t come out on stage with us.” Hunter also collaborated as a lyricist with the other members of the Dead, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, although over time Weir, the other principal songwriter besides Garcia, switched to using John Perry Barlow as a lyricist.
Hunter called 1970’s “Friend of the Devil” the closest he and Garcia came to writing a classic song. (John Dawson co-wrote the music.) Hunter’s best-known line is probably What a long, strange trip it’s been, from that year’s “Truckin'”.
In 1974, Hunter released the solo album Tales of the Great Rum Runners featuring himself as a singer-songwriter. It was followed the next year by Tiger Rose. Neither attracted a large audience. Another of his solo efforts is the extremely rare recording Jack O’ Roses, containing the extended version of “Terrapin Station Suite” (without “At A Siding”, to which Hunter did not contribute) and a solo rendition of “Friend of the Devil”.In 1983, Hunter convinced Relix magazine founder, Les Kippel, to start a record company. Hunter wanted an American outlet for his new project Jack O’Roses.
Robert Hunter performing in the early 1980s.
Hunter has collaborated with Bob Dylan on several occasions; he co-wrote two songs on Dylan’s 1988 album Down in the Groove, all but one of the songs on Dylan’s 2009 album Together Through Life, and “Duquesne Whistle” from Dylan’s 2012 album Tempest.
Since the dissolution of the Grateful Dead in 1995 Hunter has successfully continued his writing career, working on new songs with Jim Lauderdale, Greg Anton, Steve Kimock, David Nelson, Pete Sears, and Rob Barraco, among others. He also is seen occasionally playing solo acoustic guitar and performing his classic works, as well as newer songs.
In 2004 he opened most of the Dead’s summer tour. He also co-wrote, with Nelson, many of the songs on the 2009 New Riders of the Purple Sage album Where I Come From. Hunter wrote “Cyclone” for Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers’ Levitate album, released in 2009. Bruce Hornsby said about “Cyclone” in a recent interview:
Robert Hunter (lyricist) Net Worth
The estimated Net Worth of Robert L Hunter is at least $2.66 Million dollars as of 18 May 2017. Mr. Hunter owns over 2,000 units of Emclaire stock worth over $2,663,624 and over the last 4 years, he sold EMCF stock worth over $0. In addition, he makes $0 as Independent Director at Emclaire.
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Fare Thee Well: Grateful Dead Lyricist Robert Hunter Remembers His Last Conversation with Jerry Garcia
A rare interview published in the just-released Ebook, ‘Reckoning: Conversations With the Grateful Dead,’ offers a glimpse into the band’s songwriting process.
Robert Hunter was a non-performing member of the Grateful Dead, at least as important as anyone else to the group’s musical legacy. A master lyricist, Hunter wrote the words to virtually every Jerry Garcia song, including most of the band’s best-loved songs: “Uncle John’s Band,” ”China Cat Sunflower,” “Friend of the Devil,” “Casey Jones,” “Wharf Rat,” “Dire Wolf” and “Truckin’” to name a few.
Many of Hunter’s finest songs tell novelistic tales in just a few pages worth of verse. His work has always been lyrically ambitious, deeply poetic and simultaneously redolent of both fantasy worlds and toes-in-the-mud Americana. It’s impossible to imagine the Grateful Dead without Hunter. His lyrics have largely had to speak for themselves, as he has given precious few interviews over the years. This interview was conducted in July 2014 and is excerpted from a much longer conversation with Hunter in Reckoning: Conversations With the Grateful Dead, a new Amazon Kindle Singles Ebook.
Did Jerry write any songs before he started adapting yours? Did he ever write lyrics?
No. He wrote a verse for “The Other One” — the “you know he had to die” verse — but that’s about it. I believe Jerry would have been capable of it had he chosen to open his heart and soul to people through words as well as through guitar. Jerry was so brilliant that anything that he tackled, he could have done well.
As the band became what they became and Jerry became an icon, your words became the public’s vision of his vision. When people quoted him, they quoted you.
That’s a pretty unusual situation. Did you ever talk about that?
No, we didn’t really. The last time I ever spoke to Jerry, he called me on the phone about a week or two before he died. We were getting a writing session together. Looking back, the conversation was rather strange on his part. He started complimenting me, which is something he had never done before. He said, “Your words never stuck in my throat.” And I thought, “What? This is coming from Jerry?” Because we took each other 100 percent for granted. It just wasn’t how we spoke to one another and boy…
It’s like he was saying good-bye.
He definitely was, because talking like that was just not Jerry’s nature. Generally, I’d give him a new batch of songs and he’d say, “Oh crap, Hunter!” [Laughs] He’d be angry because it meant he had to work. He said in an interview once that he’d rather sit and toss cards into a hat than write a song.
You mention writing sessions, but I thought that he generally worked from your written word. How did the collaboration work?
Most of the time, it was lyrics first. I would give certain songs to him. About once a year, I would also put songs into a file called “Can You Dig This?” — the better of the lyrics that I’d come up with. I’d put it in there for any of the guys in the band that wanted to write to pick through. Jerry would take most of those, and [Bob] Weir would pick a couple out. Basically I would provide that and once in a while, Jerry would offer a written tune to me.
Can you think of any examples where Jerry wrote the melody first and you added lyrics?
Yeah, “Foolish Heart” came about like that. And the band pretty much wrote the music for “Uncle John’s Band” together first. I would often work with the band while they were developing something — “Ramble On Rose” was one of those. I’d get a verse for them to add as they were working it out, and then write more. In that context, I would actually work with the band, which happened quite a bit for the first couple of years.
You would actually sit in the rehearsal room writing lyrics as they came up with music?
Yes, that’s right. Or I would hear Jerry just jamming on something nice — a lot of that stuff would just evaporate if someone didn’t grab it. Like one time he was sitting at a piano playing a simple four-chord structure that I thought was really a sweet thing. I turned on the tape recorder and captured it. Later I told him that I’d been working on that structure and I had something for it, and he said, “Oh, that’s not complete. That was just an idea.” So I said, “Well, take these lyrics and try it out” — and that was “So Many Roads.” Sometimes you had to sneak up on Jerry to get a tune out of him.
Why did you stop writing with Bob Weir?
There wasn’t a good close inter-relationship. It’s not Weir’s fault and I don’t think it’s my fault either. It just didn’t quite work. From my perspective, he wasn’t easy to work with. We’d write something and then he would want to rewrite it or add lines, which I didn’t care for. Jerry never did that. He liked what I gave him, and he did it.
Bob and I both tried hard but he didn’t really care so much for hard, elaborate images that I used in songs. He wanted the songs to say something simpler. He voiced that. I said, “That’s what everybody writes. My own style is what I write.”
There are some songs that Weir and I did that worked darn well: “Playing in the Band,” for instance. But we would sometimes work really, really hard only to have what we did disappear, which was frustrating. Like I remember working for days on a song, and then he didn’t like it and called his friend Barlow in. Barlow wrote the words for “Cassidy,” which is a beautiful and classic song, so I had no problem with him at all, but… I think he found it easier to work with Barlow, and with my blessing that’s what he did.