Former Daily Campus writer, Grateful Dead lyricist dies at 78

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Former UConn student and Daily Campus writer recently passed on Sept. 23.  Photo courtesy of    songhall.org   .

Former UConn student and Daily Campus writer recently passed on Sept. 23. Photo courtesy of songhall.org.

Robert Hunter, a former University of Connecticut student, Daily Campus writer and lyricist for the band “The Grateful Dead,” died on Sept. 23 at age 78. 

Hunter attended UConn for a year, according to the Stamford Advocate. At that time, he was president of the Folk Music Club and lived in Batterson Hall in the Northwest residence area.  After UConn, as lyricist for “The Grateful Dead,” he helped create hits like “Ripple” and “Friend of the Devil.” 

Matthew Light, a member of UConn class of 1978, said he remembers Hunter sitting for an interview with him in a dressing room. 

“My most vivid memory of him is probably when he sat with me for an interview in his dressing room at Shaboo, a popular nightclub waystation for traveling musicians off 195 en route to Willimantic,” Light said. “Turned out, Hunter had slept in that sparsely furnished, almost bare room: A single bed, a table, some gear tucked into a corner, but a pretty bare room.” 

Light said Hunter was passionate about his music-making. 

“Seeing that shabby little room was the first time it occurred to me how exhausting and depressing a long tour could be for a sensitive folk-rock poet,” Light said. “He tried to rock up his music with a keyboard player and a phase-shifter on his guitar, but he was a folkie at heart.” 

Light said Hunter’s legacy will live on in Connecticut.  

“His songs are vibrantly alive today in Connecticut, and Connecticut alone has a couple of dozen Grateful Dead tribute bands,” Light said. “Hunter’s lyrics are perhaps the most sung by live musicians in America.” 


Anthony Zepperi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at anthony.zepperi@uconn.edu.

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