In the 1960s and '70's, Saunders collaborated on and off with Jerry Garcia, and the Grateful Dead.
He also began working as a jazz keyboardist in the early '70s, and since has performed and recorded with Harry Belafonte, Frank Sinatra, Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis, B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt and Paul Butterfield.
In early 2000, Merl Saunders became the first recipient of the lifetime activist award from a Florida environmentalist group for his environmental activism.
Merl suffered from a stroke that had paralyzed one side of his body and curtailed his musical career.
His projects have withstood the tests of time and are still worth looking for.
Merl Saunders died on the morning of October 24, 2008 from complications involving an infection.
I had the pleasure to meet him on more than one occasion, and I know MC and his brother have some Merl tales
So long, Merl.