Wyoming Rancher, Grateful Dead Lyricist and Cyber Activist John Perry Barlow Dies At 70
A world-renowned advocate for a wide-open internet, a songwriter for the Grateful Dead, Wyoming native and former cattle rancher from Pinedale died in his sleep Wednesday.
John Perry Barlow, 70, was the son of Republican Rep. Norman Barlow and grew up on the 22,000-acre Bar Cross Ranch near Pinedale.
His young hell-raising caused his parents to send him to the Fountain Valley Military Academy in Colorado Springs where he met guitar player and fellow hell-raiser Bob Weir, according to a profile in People Magazine in 1995.
In 1965, Barlow and Weir graduated from Fountain Valley.
Weir moved to San Francisco to co-found the Grateful Dead.
Barlow moved to Connecticut to attend Wesleyan University, majored in comparative religion, graduated in 1969, traveled and lived in India before returning to the U.S. in 1970.
Weir encouraged him to write lyrics, and penned more than 30 songs for the Dead including “Mexicali Blues," "Cassidy," "Throwing Stones," and "Hell In A Bucket.”
He returned to the ranch in 1971 to care for ailing father who died in 1972. He stayed until the late 1980s, occasionally accompanied the Dead on tour, and attracted visitors to the ranch including Marlon Brando and John F. Kennedy, Jr., according to People Magazine.
He retained a life-long love of the west, according to People Magazine: "'I used to lie down out there in the middle of about 300 head of yearling cattle. Then I’d jump up and watch them scatter like a piece of mercury you’d hit with a hammer. It’ll be a long time ... before cyberspace can match an experience like that."
While running the ranch, he became fond of computers, preceded by a fondness for LSD and other psychotropic drugs.
Barlow's interest began with running the business of the ranch, and led to his interest in digital rights.
In 1990, he co-founded the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation to preserve online civil liberties. In 2012, he helped found the Freedom Of The Press Foundation for “promoting and funding aggressive, public-interest journalism focused on exposing mismanagement, corruption, and law-breaking in government.”
He was in high demand as a speaker and a writer, and was a co-founder of Wired Magazine.
He is survived by his wife Elaine and his three children.