The early champion of online free speech turned a childhood friendship with Bob Weir into some of the band’s most distinctive songs
Anyone with a passing acquaintance with the Grateful Dead will know that the central songwriting partnership was that of Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter. But there was another enduring team that fed into the band’s vision of an alternative America – rhythm guitarist Bob Weir and his old school friend John Perry Barlow, whose death, aged 70, has just been announced.
Much of the focus on Barlow in death notices has been on his standing as a libertarian champion of free speech on the web – he set up the hugely influential Electronic Frontier Foundation in 1990 having been (along with many other Deadheads) an early convert to the possibilities of the electronic bulletin board The Well. Yet the songs he wrote with Weir were the fruit of a long connection with the San Francisco band.
John Perry Barlow: the late internet pioneer who wrote for the Grateful Dead