'He'll live on in the songs,' says Bob Weir

By Karen Mizoguchi
February 08, 2018 at 07:51 AM EST
C Flanigan/Getty Images

John Perry Barlow, a lyricist for the Grateful Dead and internet pioneer, has died. He was 70.

Barlow, who co-founded the non-profit digital rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation and Freedom of the Press Foundation, died in his sleep on Wednesday, according to the announcement shared on EFF’s website.

Grateful Dead also shared the news of Barlow’s death on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, posting a link to a Spotify playlist titled “Remembering John Perry Barlow” with ten tracks including “Cassidy,” “Mexicali Blues” and “Black-Throated Wind” songs Barlow helped pen for the band.

Barlow, who also created Grateful Dead anthems “Estimated Prophet,” “Hell in a Bucket” and “The Music Never Stopped,” had suffered a heart attack in 2015.

Barlow was born on Oct. 3, 1947, in Wyoming and attended the Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with Bob Weir, who co-founded the band in 1965.

Weir paid tribute to his longtime collaborator on social media, writing, “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 – by their nature awakening and maybe even fun. He was to be admired for that, even emulated. He’ll live on in the songs we wrote… John Perry Barlow 1947-2018.”

Dead & Company — including members Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Bob Weir of Grateful Dead along with John Mayer — tweeted: “Though John is gone, he will live on in the songs he wrote. ‘Sun went down in honey, and the moon came up in wine, you know the stars were spinning dizzy, Lord the band kept us so busy, we forgot about the time.’ ”

Besides music, Barlow was known as a fighter for a free and open internet.

“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,” Cindy Cohn, EFF’s executive director, said in the statement Wednesday.

“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.”

In 2013, Barlow was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame of the Internet Society.