John Perry Barlow died on Feb. 7, at the age of 70, and although his name may not be known to all Grateful Dead fans, his words form a big part of that band’s legacy.
Robert Hunter was the band’s main lyricist, of course, writing words for songs by Jerry Garcia. But Barlow was the primary lyricist for Bob Weir. Songs they wrote together include “Cassidy,” “Estimated Prophet,” “The Music Never Stopped,” “I Need a Miracle,” “Heaven Help the Fool,” “Feel Like a Stranger,” “Hell in a Bucket” and “Throwing Stones.”
In 1990, Barlow co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which defines itself, on its web site, as “the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world.”
New Jersey-based concert promoter John Scher, who began working with The Dead in the 1970s and remained closely associated with the band as a whole and various band members, individually, for many years since then, posted some thoughts on Barlow on the Facebook page of his company, Metropolitan Entertainment.
I lost a friend today.
I first met John Barlow in the early ’70s when my relationship with Grateful Dead had just begun. Of course he co-wrote great songs with Bobby, but he was different in many ways than the rest of the band. I could talk to him about anything, politics, art, history, and of course music. Over the years he often had a bit of a different take than the rest of the guys. He also understood my point of view better than some of the others because he understood New York City and even a bit of Jersey. He lived in NYC from time to time and grabbed onto the culture, pace, musical tastes, and even the City’s panache. And of course when the internet arrived (and I was helpless) he taught me how it would make the world a better place.
As time went on John gave me great insight when I was co-manager (with Cameron Sears) of Bobby. Sometimes they would fight like banshees and even stop talking, but my observation is that they were brothers from different parents and all the great things that one shares with a sibling were quite evident to me.
We were both original board members of REX Foundation which continues to bond a lot of the DEAD family together for great causes. His words and life work will be with us forever.
Rest in peace my friend.