See Billy & The Kids + Billy Strings Debut ‘Thunder’ Featuring Robert Hunter’s Lyrics

Billy & The Kids with Billy Strings unveiled "Thunder" during their recent "Grateful Mahalo" livestream run in Hawaii.

By Nate Todd Jun 17, 2021 11:52 am PDT

Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann shared video of Billy & The Kids with Billy Strings’ debut of “Thunder” with words by late GD lyricist Robert Hunter. Kreutzmann unveiled the footage as part of a response to Strings releasing video featuring his own band's premiere of the song. Billy & The Kids performed “Thunder” on May 8 during their “Grateful Mahalo: Billy Kreutzmann’s 75th Birthday Pa’ina” livestream run in Kauai, Hawaii.

Billy Strings recently revealed that Kreutzmann tapped him to compose the music for Robert Hunter’s “Thunder” lyrics.

“I was blown out of the atmosphere when Billy Kreutzmann said he wanted me to take a crack at writing the music to these lyrics by the late great Robert Hunter,” Strings wrote in a note accompanying the video of he and his band’s debut of “Thunder” on May 22 in Louisville.

Kreutzmann further detailed the songwriting process from conception to debut in a note accompanying Billy & The Kids video of “Thunder” from Hawaii. Read his words below:

Those treasured moments when Robert Hunter would share his lyrics with me, hoping I’d put them to use, he would never–ever–mention what they were about. He didn’t give context or backstory; he didn’t give any indication about a meaning, either on the surface or anything that might be lurking beneath it. The storyteller’s job was to shed light and not to master.

For years, I’ve known that I wanted to perform “Thunder” with my band Billy & The Kids, and when Billy Strings RSVP’d to my birthday party, I saw how it would all come together: I sent him the lyrics, asked him to write new music for it, and within a day he called me back and left a voicemail with a demo that he had recorded right on his tour bus. By “demo,” I mean, he played it directly into his iPhone. I instantly fell in love with it.

It felt like such a birthday gift to debut it with him and the Kids at Grateful Mahalo just a few weeks later, and I can’t wait to play it with him and the Kids again. I think he did such a fantastic job (Hunter, too) and the jam in the middle is the Kids at their finest. Wouldn’t you agree?

If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is: Billy & the Kids with Billy Strings performing “Thunder.” (Grateful Mahalo, May 8, 2021)

PS: Can’t wait to reunite with these guys–and with you–at Red Rocks next month! Show #2 goes on sale at 10am MT!

Watch Billy & The Kids perform “Thunder” during “Grateful Mahalo” below:

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