Foremost lyricist John Barlow passed away on Wednesday. The celebrated lyricist who worked with the American rock band Grateful Dead died in his sleep at his home in San Francisco. He was aged 70.
John Barlow’s Songwriting
His lyrical career with the Grateful Dead brought songs like “Cassidy,” “Heaven Help the Fool,” and “Mexicali Blues” to fans. He co-wrote those songs with members of the band and wrote four songs on the “Built to Last” album.
Barlow did not only write songs. He was a foremost Republican politician and a leading freedom of expression advocate.
His death was announced in a blogpost by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) that he co-owned and led as its Vice Chairman.
The foundation, formed in 1990, is known for its work on the internet. They are credited with challenging the American government’s internet policies and making the word ‘cyberspace’ popular.
Executive director for the foundation Cindy Cohn noted that Barlow’s legacy was his devotion to making a world where free speech was possible without the fear of being coerced into silence.
“The Internet Lost A Hero”
On their official Twitter account, Barlow’s foundation captioned their announcement of his death, “The Internet lost a hero today.”
The Internet lost a hero today. EFF is mourning the loss of our visionary co-founder, John Perry Barlow. https://t.co/oaf7hgKsOL
— EFF (@EFF) February 7, 2018
Mourning @jpbarlow. His “Principles of Adult Behavior,” written on Oct. 3, 1977 when he turned 30 (an age he never expected to reach), are as wise a guide to life as I know. Thanks, John. pic.twitter.com/BJ09eFi7LA
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) February 7, 2018
I’m going to honor him by fighting for the principles that drew us together as fellow travelers, 20 years ago. Fare thee well, John Perry Barlow. https://t.co/qb76RLuB5E
— (@xeni) February 7, 2018
Today the world lost a champion of the internet. I lost an old friend. Memories are rushing back. “Blow the horn, and tap the tambourine; Close the gap of the dark years in between… Fare thee well now.” RIP @JPBarlow pic.twitter.com/tC6pvsdh0J
— danah boyd (@zephoria) February 8, 2018
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange also paid his respect to Barlow:
Very sad to hear my friend John Perry Barlow [@JPBarlow] with whom I started the Freedom of Press Foundation has died aged 70. Barlow was a fighter and a lover. He lived a rich life, filled with passion and purpose. The best of America. One such moment: https://t.co/pIL8Fky5Dp
— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) February 8, 2018
A piece on the New York Times noted that the late lyricist’s desire for an open internet was partly inspired by the Grateful Dead. This is in reference to the band’s practice of welcoming audiences to record the band’s concerts.
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