John Perry Barlow, lyricist for the Grateful Dead and eminent internet rights advocate, has died. He was 70 years old.
Born in Sublette County, Wyoming in October 1947, Barlow was raised a Mormon and was prohibited from watching television until he was 12 when he was permitted to watch TV evangelists.
Attending Fountain Valley School in Colorado, he met Bob Weir when they were aged 15 and they struck up a close friendship.
In 1971, six years after Weir formed the Grateful Dead, Barlow began penning lyrics for the band alongside the guitarist/vocalist in a songwriting partnership that would last until 1995 when the seminal group disbanded.
Among the dozens of songs he co-wrote are ‘Cassidy’, ‘Mexicali Blues’, ‘Black-Throated Wind’ and ‘Looks Like Rain’.
Paying tribute to his friend, Bob Weir said: “This life is fleeting, as we all know - the Muse we serve is not. John had a way of taking life’s most difficult things and framing them as challenges, therefore adventures. He was to be admired for that, even emulated. He’ll live on in the songs we wrote...”
This life is fleeting, as we all know - the Muse we serve is not. John had a way of taking life’s most difficult things and framing them as challenges, therefore adventures. He was to be admired for that, even emulated. He’ll live on in the songs we wrote... pic.twitter.com/E29drq80du— Bob Weir (@BobWeir) February 8, 2018
Alongside his career with the Grateful Dead, Barlow was a “visionary” internet pioneer and press freedom advocate who established the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in 1990, which defends online liberties.
The group’s executive director, Cindy Cohn, said: “With a broken heart I have to announce that EFF's founder, visionary, and our ongoing inspiration, John Perry Barlow, passed away quietly in his sleep this morning.
“We will miss Barlow and his wisdom for decades to come, and he will always be an integral part of EFF. It is no exaggeration to say that major parts of the Internet we all know and love today exist and thrive because of Barlow’s vision and leadership. He always saw the Internet...”
He published a number of essays, including 1996's A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, which pushed for an independent internet, away from government rule.
Barlow was also Fellow Emeritus at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, with who he was affiliated with for 20 years.
Alongside Robert Greenfield, Barlow recent wrote a memoir called ‘Mother American Night: My Life in Crazy Times’, which is set for release in June 2018 via Penguin Random House.