Photo Credit: Bill Cutler’s Official Facebook

John Cutler, Grateful Dead producer, sound engineer, and archivist, known for his longtime involvement with the group, like recording their final studio albums, In The Dark (1987) and Built to Last (1989), and later taking on the role of their chief sound tech, has passed away. Cutler was 73. 

Cutler’s death was confirmed by his brother, Bill Cutler, on Tuesday, Dec. 26. He wrote on Facebook, “My brother John died on Christmas Eve after a long illness. I know he was loved by many of you, and in the coming days, I will share some stories about his life, but right now, our family needs time to process this and grieve.”

Shortly after, Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux shared his memories of Cutler, writing, “I was saddened to learn of the passing of my friend and mentor John Cutler. John had more integrity than anyone I’ve ever known. He hired me 25 years ago to work alongside Dick Latvala as the Grateful Dead’s video archivist, my start date being February 1, 1999, John’s birthday.”

Lemieux’s remembrance continues: “Amongst many, many accomplishments, John produced some of the Grateful Dead’s best and most popular albums, including In The Dark and Without A Net. An incredibly talented audio engineer, mixer, and producer, John was a very kind person, one of the best.”

Cutler’s association with the beloved San Francisco jamband derived from a series of odd jobs that eventually led to increasingly significant roles in the late-70s. Prior to the band’s storied trip to Egypt, Cutler cemented a new title, serving as the Dead’s advance man for Giza and, after their return, signing a full-time contract.

During the ‘90s, Cutler worked independently with Jerry Garcia and his namesake band, serving as the FOH engineer. Later, he took over Dan Healy’s role as the Grateful Dead’s OH engineer after the previous holder’s 1993 departure. 

In the years that followed Garcia’s death, Cutler continued to work on archival releases, both live and studio sets for the Dead and Garcia. He also lent his skills as an engineer and producer to Rob Wasserman, Gov’t Mule, Warren Zevon, New Revival and others.