Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Oct 24th 2008 8:00PM by Benjy Eisen
Saunders rose to national prominence in the 1970s after recording and performing with Jerry Garcia in a number of that guitarist's Grateful Dead side-projects, including Legion of Mary and the Garcia/Saunders Band. Gaining a name for himself in the Deadhead scene, as well as maintaining his reputation as a jazz player, Saunders' long list of credits include collaborations and/or stints with Miles Davis, BB King, Bonnie Raitt, Frank Sinatra, Phish and of course, the Grateful Dead. In addition to his contribution to the Dead's 1971 self-titled album, Saunders worked with them in his role as musical director for the television series 'The Twilight Zone' in the 1980s.In 1990, he charted a Billboard Top Ten release in the "New Age" category for his and Garcia's collaboration entitled 'Blues from the Rainforest.' He spent much of the '90s touring with his Rainforest Band, frequently playing college towns to a packed hippie audience.
Before all of the accolades, however, Saunders was known as Jimmy Smith's apprentice, thereby establishing himself as one of the world's pre-eminent Hammond B3 organ players.
Deadheads will also note that in 1986, Saunders played a crucial role in Jerry Garcia's recovery from a coma. Saunders helped Garcia relearn guitar by sitting down at his piano and running through music until it came back to Garcia.
Saunders' family has posted an address for condolences on his website.