Merl Saunders, RIP
October 24, 2008 1:37 PM   Subscribe

That's "wizard," of course.

Rest in peace, Merl. I saw many shows by various Garcia-Saunders bands over the years, several of them at the much-missed Keystone club in Berkeley, which was so tiny that the bandmembers would have to walk through the crowd to get onstage. He seemed like a warm, generous soul who enjoyed spreading good vibes and solid funk through a room like that. After Garcia's diabetic coma in 1986, it was Saunders who helped him relearn how to play a guitar.

Thanks, Merl. It was great to have you here for a while.
posted by digaman at 1:52 PM on October 24, 2008

posted by doctor_negative at 1:54 PM on October 24, 2008

Thanks for the amazing music, Merl, and for being a good human being with a great sense of funk. May you rest in peace.
posted by nickyskye at 1:59 PM on October 24, 2008

That's Wizzard, of course.
posted by anazgnos at 2:02 PM on October 24, 2008

What a B3 champion.


posted by Roach at 2:06 PM on October 24, 2008

posted by schyler523 at 2:18 PM on October 24, 2008

Aww, Merl. He used to record at a little studio in the Sunset district in SF when I worked at a now-defunct collectively owned grocery store there so he came in a lot for snacks. Very sweet, friendly guy.
posted by serazin at 2:26 PM on October 24, 2008

posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:38 PM on October 24, 2008

posted by stubby phillips at 3:08 PM on October 24, 2008

Aw, fuck. A friend just sent this to me. :-(

RIP, Merl, and thanks for all the good times. Your playing always brought a smile to my face and dancing to my feet.

posted by mosk at 3:10 PM on October 24, 2008

posted by mikelieman at 3:31 PM on October 24, 2008


goddamn. merl
posted by waraw at 3:40 PM on October 24, 2008

man. Thanks Merl.

posted by Sailormom at 3:43 PM on October 24, 2008

I only got to see him once in New Orleans, but I must've listened to hundreds & hundreds of hours of his playing over the years. Thanks for all the music, and rest in peace.
posted by muckster at 3:45 PM on October 24, 2008

Merl Saunders; Missoula, Montana; 2-20-2000; Track: Feel Like Dynamite

It's gonna be a hot jam in Heaven tonight!
posted by mikelieman at 3:58 PM on October 24, 2008


I saw him play many times through the years, always amazing - a legend has died.

FWIW the article's title says he was the former keyboardist for the Grateful Dead, as a formerly rabid Deadhead I know that this is not true - quite a big mistake for Rolling Stone...
posted by weezy at 4:02 PM on October 24, 2008

Well, not exactly, weezy. He is on one of the many albums called 'Grateful Dead' which we call Skull & Roses. Check out PITB and Wharf Rat where his organ part is overdubed. Still a stretch to say he was 'in the band.'
posted by fixedgear at 4:12 PM on October 24, 2008

Awwwwww. Shit.

posted by sfts2 at 4:28 PM on October 24, 2008

Thanks Merl.
posted by horsemuth at 5:20 PM on October 24, 2008

Damn but I do love on some Merl Saunders.

It really bites that he's dead but I can't wipe the smile off my face thinking about the music he made.


posted by humannaire at 6:35 PM on October 24, 2008

posted by brownbeards at 8:47 PM on October 24, 2008

i think he actually did sit in on a couple of dead shows - jerry sounded like he really loved playing with him

can't find it online but their version of lonesome avenue rocks
posted by pyramid termite at 8:53 PM on October 24, 2008

posted by LinusMines at 9:27 AM on October 25, 2008

I met him in the '90s when a band I worked for opened up for his band at the Golden West in Albuquerque. Nice guy, very friendly, and he played a really long set and just was relentless. He wore his much younger bandmates out.

Then, in 2000, I had just moved to the SF Bay Area, and I was taking the Haight St. bus back to a friend's. An elderly man was getting off close to my stop very slowly - who must have been in his 80s - and he had some expensive looking jewelry on and a pretty nice suit. I offered to walk him back to his place, which turns out was just a few blocks away, and he thanked me when we got there and told me his son was Merl Saunders, asked me if I knew who he was. I told him yes, that I met him some years back at a gig and said I was a fan. I sort of didn't believe him, after all he was a random old dude on Haight St. getting off a bus, and plenty of people around there have crazy stories, but it didn't matter. He did ask me for my phone number, though, and I gave him my friend's number. Later, my friend answered the phone, and it was Merl calling to thank me for helping his dad. She could tell immediately that it was his voice, though I wasn't there at the time. Wonder if his dad's still around. I'll miss his music, that's for sure. Wish I got a chance to answer that phone, though.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:03 PM on October 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

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