John Perry Barlow, a lyricist who co-wrote dozens of songs for The Grateful Dead, died on Wednesday at the age of 70. A post on the website of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group Barlow co-founded that promotes freedom of expression in digital media, reports that he “passed away quietly in his sleep.”
Barlow contributed lyrics to many Grateful Dead songs from 1971 until the group disbanded in 1995 following the death of frontman Jerry Garcia. Barlow usually collaborated with singer/guitarist Bob Weir, but also co-wrote with keyboardist Brett Mydland. Among the tunes he helped compose are “Cassidy,” “Heaven Help the Fool,” “Looks Like Rain,” and “Mexicali Blues.”
In addition, John wrote dozens of songs with Weir for Bob’s various solo projects.
Barlow also was an avid political activist who long fought for the right of the media to act without government interference. He co-founded in the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 1990.
In the message announcing his death, the EFF’s executive director, Cindy Cohn, writes, “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 as a fundamental place of freedom, where voices long silenced can find an audience and people can connect with others regardless of physical distance.”
Barlow was among the many Grateful Dead associates who were interviewed in the in-depth 2017 documentary about the group, Long Strange Trip.
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