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Robert Hunter, who provided lyrics to many of the best-loved songs by The Grateful Dead, has passed away at 78, according to a statement from his family.

A writer of considerable reach and eloquence, Hunter (born in California with the suitably poetic moniker Robert Burns) met Dead co-founder Jerry Garcia in the early '60s, at which time he joined in the famed acid tests. His first lyric for the band was "Dark Star," which would become a staple of their live set; he subsequently penned the words for such legendary tunes as "Ripple," "Friend of the Devil," "Brokedown Palace," "Truckin'," "Brown-Eyed Women" and "Jack Straw," among many others, including their one and only Pop hit, "Touch of Grey."

After Garcia's death, Hunter collaborated with Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello and Bruce Hornsby, among other composers.

The family's statement reads as follows: "It is with great sadness we confirm our beloved Robert passed away yesterday night. He died peacefully at home in his bed, surrounded by love. His wife Maureen was by his side holding his hand. 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."

photo credit: briangatens [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons