Poet, lyricist, and digital activist John Perry Barlow dies, aged 70
Friday, February 9, 2018
On Wednesday morning,poet, lyricist, and digital rights activist died in his sleep at his home. The announcement of his death specified no cause, but reportedly Barlow had recently experienced debilitating health problems. The co-founder of the legal defense non-profit (EFF) and former lyricist of rock band was 70. The EFF announced his death.
Barlow composed lyrics for the Grateful Dead, several songs for theband over almost 25 years. In the 1990s, he shifted his focus to the , composing essays on and working with the EFF to protect .
Born tostate legislator Norman Barlow and his wife Miriam, Barlow was raised on the Bar Cross Ranch in , . Barlow became friends with future Grateful Dead in high school before attending in , where he studied . During his studies, Barlow began visiting (lysergic acid diethylamide) drug advocate .
After graduation in 1969, he opted to travel the world and returned to his family’s ranch in 1971. With his father ill from a stroke, the younger Barlow began ranching before Weir contacted him to finish songs for the latter’s solo album. The collaboration continued with the Grateful Dead and their individual members, with Barlow contributing occasional lyrics until the band’s 1995 dissolution. In 1977, he married Elaine Parker. He sold the family ranch in 1988 due to financial strain.
Barlow became interested in the online world in the 1980s, including becoming a leader at on-line forum. In 1990, Barlow was interrogated by an agent about possible connections to underground . He posted his experience to the WELL and discovered that had had a similar encounter. The duo decided to join together to help provide legal defense for the hackers and formally incorporated the EFF, adding to the EFF board , , and co-founder . He served on the board of the EFF until his death. He and Elaine divorced in 1995. He met Cynthia Horner in 1993 and was briefly engaged to her before her unexpected death from an undiagnosed health condition at the age of 29.
In addition to digital activism, Barlow was an early commentator on Internet culture, writing several pieces forin its early years and penning essays such as “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” (1996) that helped define . In 1998 he became a fellow of ‘s and in 2013 he was inducted into the . Barlow stayed active in issues related to civil liberties and rights, helping to create the in 2012. Although he had mostly retired from songwriting, he contributed to several songs by .
Barlow suffered a majorin 2015. By late 2016, he faced several serious health conditions, leading several musicians to hold a for him to raise funds for his medical bills. He recently completed his memoir Mother American Night, slated for release on June 5.
Barlow is survived his ex-wife Elaine Parker Barlow; the couple’s three daughters Leah Justine, Anna Winter, and Amelia Rose; and a granddaughter.
- Sam Roberts. “John Perry Barlow, 70, Dies; Championed an Unfettered Internet” — , February 8, 2018
- John Perry Barlow, Internet Pioneer, 1947-2018” — , February 7, 2018 . “
- Robert Valencia. “Who Is John Perry Barlow? Internet Advocate and Grateful Dead Lyricist Passes Away at 70” — , February 7, 2018
- Cyrus Farivar. “Co-founder of EFF, John Perry Barlow, dead at 70” — , February 7, 2018
- Richard Gonzalez. “Cyber-Libertarian And Pioneer John Perry Barlow Dies At Age 70” — , February 7, 2018
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- Scott Bernstein. “Bob Weir Teams With Members Of Talking Heads, SCI, Primus & More At Barlow Benefit” — , October 25, 2016
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- John Perry Barlow. “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” — , February 8, 1996