The Silver Snarling Trumpet

The Birth of the Grateful Dead—The Lost Manuscript of Robert Hunter

Regular Price $32.00

Regular Price $41.00 CAD

Regular Price $32.00

Regular Price $41.00 CAD

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On Sale

Oct 8, 2024

Page Count

256 Pages




Discovered at last, the legendary lost manuscript of Grateful Dead co-founder and primary lyricist Robert Hunter, written in the early 1960s—a wry, richly observed, and enlightening remembrance of “the scene” in Palo Alto that gave rise to an incredible partnership of Hunter and Jerry Garcia, and then to the Grateful Dead itself—with a Foreword by John Mayer, an Introduction by Dennis McNally, and an Afterword by Brigid Meier.
“Strange to think back on those days when it was perfectly natural that we all slept on the floor in one small room…. These were the days before practical considerations, matters of ‘importance,’ began to eat our minds. We were all poets and philosophers then, until we began to wonder why we had so few concrete worries and went out to look for some.”

So wrote Robert Hunter in The Silver Snarling Trumpet, both a novelistic singular work of art and the missing piece of the Grateful Dead origin story. In these pages, readers are privy to the early days of Hunter, Garcia, and their cohorts, who sit at coffee shops passing around a single cup of bottomless coffee because they lacked the funds for more than one. Follow these truth-seeking souls into the stacks at Kepler’s Books, renting instruments at Swain’s House of Music, and through the countryside on mind-expanding road trips. Witness impromptu jams, inspired intellectual pranks, and a dialogue that is, by turns, amusing and brilliant and outrageous. Hunter shares his impressions of his first gig with Garcia for a college audience, along with descriptions of his most intense dreams and psychedelic explorations. All of it, enlivened by Hunter’s visionary spirit and profound ideas about creativity and collaboration.

The lost manuscript is augmented with a Foreword by John Mayer, an Introduction by Dennis McNally, and an Afterword by Brigid Meier, who was part of their scene in the San Francisco Bay Area that served as a bridge from the beatniks to the hippies. Also included is Hunter’s own 1982 assessment of his work—about how he shared it with close confidants but then decided to leave it unpublished. Five years after Hunter’s death, the text has been found, so readers and fans of Hunter’s indelible poetry and song can explore the origin of his genius and his craft.


“Very touching and endearing, The Silver Snarling Trumpet is a Menlo Park version of Withnail & I. It reads like a duck down a Roman alleyway, taking in all the graffiti and movie posters, as it embraces the panic and curious certainty of youth, the flights and fancies of friends, even the butts of a few discarded jokes—all before first light dawns on Robert Hunter's intricate, lyrical dream of America.” —Elvis Costello
“This is a gift—a rare, special, and important hand-drawn blueprint by the architect of the dream himself. Discovering just a page of this book would have been enough to rejoice over. That we have hundreds is a reality I’m still trying to get my head around. Time itself has revealed something truly magnificent, and there is beauty to be found on every page.” —John Mayer, from the Foreword
“An essential document in the Deadhead library, and a pleasure to read.” —Kirkus Reviews
"The Silver Snarling Trumpet unfolds in Menlo Park, California, where the aimless college-age Hunter and Jerry Garcia soak in ‘the scene’...and form a folk-guitar duo. Hunter's fond snapshot of an embryonic counterculture is richly observed and rife with vibrant character sketches…. Deadheads will drink this in…" —Publishers Weekly
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