Jerry Garcia's last days recalled by Robert Hunter

Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter recalls being “alarmed” by Jerry Garcia’s kind words in the days leading up to the mainman’s death.

The pair’s collaboration on 1993 song Days Between had them both excited about what the future might hold. But when Garcia phoned him in 1995 to set up their next writing session, there was something unusual about his tone.

Hunter tells Rolling Stone: “Jerry had been into rehab again. He called me up – he was going to come over and we were going to get writing again.

“He said some wonderful stuff that was very uncharacteristic of him. He said, ‘Your words never stuck in my throat.’ Jerry didn’t tend to talk like that. There was something possibly, slightly alarming about it – because he was dead within a week or so after that.”

Hunter reflects that, with Garcia, appreciation was usually more “implicit” rather than stated. He adds: “Perhaps there was a finality to it; that that was the last statement, whether or not he knew he was going to die.”

That conversation was the pair’s last, as Garcia soon suffered a fatal heart attack. Hunter says: “Apparently he died with a smile on his face. Those were the heavy times.”

Asked whether he’s ever got over his friend’s passing, he says: “I don’t know. There are times when suddenly I realise there’s some residual grief and always will be. There were none like him.

“It always felt like it would never end. And then all of a sudden it was gone. It was gone with Garcia.”

The Grateful Dead will play three final shows in Chicago this summer.

Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.