Grateful Dead Lyricist & Political Activist John Perry Barlow 1947 – 2018

By Scott Bernstein Feb 7, 2018 2:35 pm PST

Grateful Dead lyricist as well as Electronic Frontier Foundation and Freedom Of The Press Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow has died today at age 70. The sad news was first passed on by filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev, who featured Barlow in his 2017 Long Strange Trip Grateful Dead documentary, and confirmed by the EFF. John Perry Barlow had been dealing with one health issue after another in recent years and died in his sleep.

Barlow was born on October 3, 1947 in Wyoming. He attended the Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs, Colorado starting at age 15. There, he met fellow student Bob Weir. John Perry Barlow and Bob Weir forged a friendship that lasted through Barlow’s death. Weir went on to become a founding member of the Grateful Dead and in 1971 recruited his old friend as a writing partner. The Barlow/Weir songwriting team yielded dozens of iconic songs including “Cassidy,” “Throwing Stones,” “Hell In A Bucket,” “Lost Sailor,” “Saint Of Circumstance,” “Black-Throated Wind,” “The Music Never Stopped,” “Lazy Lightning/Supplication,” “Looks Like Rain” and “Mexicali Blues.”


JPB became fascinated with the online world following his joining the WELL in 1986. Four years later he founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit digital rights group. Mitch Kapor and John Gilmore were Barlow’s co-founders of the organization, which to this day works to preserve civil liberties on the internet. The organization also provides tutorials and other services designed to promote safe online communications. John Perry Barlow more recently was part of the 2012 formation of the Freedom Of The Press (FPF) Foundation. The organization’s mission includes “promoting and funding aggressive, public-interest journalism focused on exposing mismanagement, corruption, and law-breaking in government.”

Barlow switched between associations with the Democratic and Republican parties. Other credits include Fellow Emeritus at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, poet and essayist. John Perry Barlow survived a massive heart attack on May 27, 2015 but has been struggling with one health issue after another ever since. He faced enormous medical bills and benefits were held on both coasts to raise funds for Barlow.

John Perry Barlow is survived by his wife Elaine and their three daughters. The JamBase Team sends its condolences to the Barlows as well as JPB’s friends and family.

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