Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow dead at 70

Activist and EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow has died

John Perry Barlow, widely recognised as a pioneer of freedom of speech on the internet and digital platforms, has died at age 70.

EFF said in statement that Barlow died Wednesday morning in his sleep. A cause of death was not named, but NBC reports he was known to have health problems since suffering a heart attack in 2015.

Barlow co-wrote several songs for the Grateful Dead with Weir, including "Mexicali Blues", "Black Throated Wind", "Bombs Away", "Heaven Help the Fool", "Cassidy", "I Need a Miracle", "Lazy Lightnin'", "Looks Like Rain", "Lost Sailor", "Money Money", "My Brother Esau", "Feel Like a Stranger", "Saint of Circumstance", "Supplication" and "This Time Forever".

That stunning breadth of accumulated experience and wisdom, combined with a relentlessly curious nature and friendly demeanor, made Barlow a frequent talking head presence in film, in documentaries exploring digital concerns (2013's Downloaded, which examines the consequences of the "downloading revolution") as well as, naturally, the Grateful Dead. Barlow graduated from Wesleyan University in 1969.

In addition, the lyricist wrote dozens of songs with Weir for Bob's various solo projects. He later returned to Wyoming, where he ran the family cattle ranch for almost two decades and dabbled in Republican politics. 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".

It proclaimed: "Governments of the Industrial World, you tired giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind".

Barlow's interest in protecting internet freedom stemmed from his involvement with one of the earliest online forums, The Well. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. John had a way of taking life's most hard things and framing them as challenges, therefore adventures.

It is hard to underestimate the value John Barlow and the EFF had in shaping the internet as we use it today and the EFF will no doubt continue their activism in regards to supporting an open internet.

He is survived by his wife Elaine and three daughters.

A memoir, Mother American Night: My Life in Crazy Times, which Barlow wrote with Robert Greenfield, is to be published this year.

His preoccupation with the internet dated from the mid-1980s, when he began using a computer to manage the ranch's finances.

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