Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow dead at 70

Casey Dawson
February 10, 2018

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has announced that one of its co-founders, John Perry Barlow, died in his sleep on the morning of 7 February 2018 at the age of 70 after a long series of illnesses. For tech sites such as ours, however, he'll be forever remembered as the co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation - arguably the most influential organization for internet civil liberties. Barlow penned numerous songs for cult United States band The Grateful Dead from 1971 to 1995, including "Cassidy", "Mexicali Blues" and "Black-Throated Wind".

Cohn went on to say that "in the days and weeks to come, we will be talking and writing more about what an extraordinary role Barlow played for the Internet and the world".

His young hell-raising caused his parents to send him to the Fountain Valley Military Academy in Colorado Springs where he met guitar player and fellow hell-raiser Bob Weir, according to a profile in People Magazine in 1995.

He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1969 and eventually returned to Wyoming, where he ran a cattle ranch for almost two decades and dabbled in libertarian and Republican politics, working on a congressional campaign for Richard B. Cheney, the future vice president in the George W. Bush administration. Sought out by FBI agents investigating computer crimes, he realized government agencies did not understand what was going on in these communities and "were vastly overreacting", Cohn said. The Grateful Dead connection led him to early prominence on the WELL community (short for "Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link"), credited as one of the first online social networks. "He was to be admired for that, even emulated. You have no sovereignty where we gather", he wrote.

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Yet Ace was only the start as Bobby and John Perry Barlow would also write such gems as "Let It Grow", "The Music Never Stopped", "Lazy Lightning", "Estimated Prophet", "I Need A Miracle", "Saint Of Circumstance", "Lost Sailor", "Feel Like A Stranger", "Throwing Stones", "Hell In A Bucket" and "Picasso Moon" over the course of the next two decades.

Barlow was also an avid activist for the Internet freedom.

Barlow's memoir, Mother American Night: My Life in Crazy Times, will be released on June 5th. His survivors include three daughters, Amelia, Anna and Leah, and a granddaughter.

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