There was much more to the man behind such Grateful Dead lyrics as "I may be going to hell in a bucket, babe, but at least I'm enjoying the ride." John Perry Barlow was born near Cora, Wyoming (near Jackson Hole), on October 3, 1947. A former cattle rancher, he listed his official job description as writer, speaker, and consultant to different companies on a number of issues. At the forefront of Barlow's efforts was his dedication to seeing that the Internet functions under the same freedoms as those associated with other American institutions, such as print and broadcast media, in its dissemination of information and opinion.
A graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, he earned an honors degree in comparative religion in 1969. In 1972, after his father's death, Barlow began managing the family-owned Bar Cross Land and Livestock Company, which he sold in 1988. Before the Internet boom of the mid- to late '90s, he and Mitchell Kapor founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 1990. Barlow served as vice chairman in the group's effort to maintain freedom of expression in digital media. He wrote for several publications, including The New York Times, Nerve, and Wired, and he wrote A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace in February 1996. Barlow worked to bridge gaps between society and technology and consulted on various topics and issues, such as the social, cultural, and legal issues arising from the spread of Internet technology.
As one of the Grateful Dead's lyricists from 1971 to 1995, he penned lyrics to some 30 songs. His Dead connection began way before the band did, actually, as he met Bob Weir in prep school in 1962. Nearly ten years later, he was capturing the essence of one of the first jam bands and putting it to paper. Among others, he wrote lyrics for Weir's 1972 effort, Ace, including the tunes "Black-Throated Wind," "Looks Like Rain," and "Mexicali Blues." He was married to Elaine Parker Barlow for 17 years before they divorced; they had three daughters, Leah Justine, Anna Winter, and Amelia. John Perry Barlow died at his home in San Francisco in February 2018; he was 70 years old. ~ Rachel Sprovtsoff
HOMETOWNToronto, Ontario, Canada