Former Grateful Dead Lyricist and Internet Pioneer John Perry Barlow Dies

February 8, 2018 Updated: February 8, 2018

John Perry Barlow, the former lyricist for the Grateful Dead, died at the age of 70, according to reports.

Barlow was also one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Freedom of the Press Foundation.

The EFF, a non-profit digital rights organization, said that Barlow died in his sleep on the morning of Feb. 7.

“With a broken heart I have to announce that EFF’s founder, visionary, and our ongoing inspiration, John Perry Barlow, passed away quietly in his sleep this morning. We will miss Barlow and his wisdom for decades to come, and he will always be an integral part of EFF,” the group stated.

“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.”

Before that, Barlow began co-writing songs for the Grateful Dead with founding member Bob Weir.

Dead classics like “Cassidy,” “Mexicali Blues,” Black-Throated Wind,” and “Looks Like Rain” as well as dozens more were penned by him, Rolling Stone noted.

“Barlow was sometimes held up as a straw man for a kind of naive techno-utopianism that believed that the Internet could solve all of humanity’s problems without causing any more,” the EFF also said.

“As someone who spent the past 27 years working with him at EFF, I can say that nothing could be further from the truth. Barlow knew that new technology could create and empower evil as much as it could create and empower good.”

The EFF said that he wanted to focus on the good.

He said, “I knew it’s also true that a good way to invent the future is to predict it. 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.’”


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