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Merl Saunders R.I.P.

Merl Saunders (2/14/34-10/24/08) died this morning at Kaiser Hospital in San Fransisco from complications involving an infection after a long battle with cancer. Merl was known for his incredible Hammond B3 keyboard playing, notably with Jerry Garcia, as well as lots of other big time (and small time) names including Harry Belafonte, Frank Sinatra, Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis, B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Butterfield, Phish, Robert Hunter, Widespread Panic, Blues name it Merl played with them. He was a musician who somehow transcended any title of performer, player, keyboardist whatever. When you saw Merle playing you felt as though you were up on stage dancing with him, and if you wanted to you probably could. His energy was just contagious. That big smile as he grooved to his funky Hammond. I never got to see him play with Garcia but was blessed to be able to see him many times. I've missed seeing him the last few years and will surely miss him forever. But, just like Jerry, he leaves behind a huge wonderful legacy of music and memories for us to enjoy.

So Merle I want to thank you for letting me be myself! Peace Brother!

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