Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Merle Christensen

John Perry Barlow, Grateful Dead lyricist, dead at 70

John Perry Barlow, Grateful Dead lyricist, dead at 70

Born in Wyoming on October 3, 1947, Barlow graduated with a degree in comparative religion from Wesleyan University.

Barlow also co-wrote songs with members of the Grateful Dead from 1971 until the group disbanded in 1995. He co-founded the EFF in 1990, and has been credited with first coining the term "cyberspace" in its current definition that same year.

John Perry Barlow in 1991.

Through the EFF, Barlow championed net neutrality and an open internet, often suing the federal government over its handling of online information and privacy matters. In a 1996 manifesto, the "Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace", he argued that the USA and other governments shouldn't impose their sovereignty on the "global social space we are building".

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The staunchly libertarian document demanded governments to avoid interfering in the internet, which he referred to as "the new home of the mind". Shortly thereafter, Barlow and Mitch Kapor, the creator of Lotus 1-2-3, organized a series of dinners with leaders of the computer industry for discussions that would lead to the creation of the EFF.

Barlow's interest in protecting internet freedom stemmed from his involvement with one of the earliest online forums, The Well. As someone who spent the past 27 years working with him at EFF, I can say that nothing could be further from the truth. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone.

He graduated in 1969 at Wesleyan University in CT with a degree in comparative religion. He remained on the organization's board and involved with EFF until his death. "He made a conscious decision to focus on the latter". "So I predicted Utopia, hoping to give Liberty a running start before the laws of Moore and Metcalfe delivered up what Ed Snowden now correctly calls 'turn-key totalitarianism'". Among the tunes he helped compose were "Cassidy", "Heaven Help the Fool", "Looks Like Rain" and "Mexicali Blues". He attended high school with Grateful Dead co-founder and guitarist Bob Weir in Colorado; their songwriting partnership was chronicled in the recent documentary "Long Strange Trip".

Yesterday, John Perry Barlow died in his sleep after a tumultuous three years of health issues following a 2015 heart attack.

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