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Grateful Dead’s John Perry Barlow Dies At 70

By Camille Heimbrod | Feb 08, 2018 07:08 AM EST

John Perry Barlow passed away in his sleep on Wednesday morning. He was 70.

Barlow was dubbed as a visionary internet pioneer for promoting press freedom. He also worked as a lyricist for the group the Grateful Dead. In 2012, Barlow was also named as an "Open 20" fighter because of his contributions to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Following his death, Cindy Cohn, the foundation's executive director, released a statement. She said that she and the other members of the Electronic Frontier Foundation will greatly miss their colleague.

"It is no exaggeration to say that major parts of the internet we all know and love today exist and thrive because of Barlow's vision and leadership. He always saw the internet as a fundamental place of freedom, where voices long silenced can find an audience and people can connect with others regardless of physical distance," said Cohn.

Cohn also defended Barlow from critics who claimed that he was kind of naïve for believing that the internet could save humanity's problems.

"Barlow knew that new technology could create and empower evil as much as it could create and empower the good. He made a conscious effort to focus on the latter," said Cohn.

John Perry Barlow's Work

Barlow was the author of the Declaration of the Independence on Cyberspace, which was published in 1996. The document demanded the government to avoid interfering on the internet.

"I declare the global space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us," wrote Barlow.

Barlow started writing songs for Grateful Dead in 1971 with the help of his good friend Bob Weir. The two collaborated on several songs together until 1995. Some of their hits include "Looks Like Rain," "Mexicali Blues," "Cassidy," and more. Barlow also contributed four songs to Grateful Dead's 1989 album Built to Last.

On top of his contributions to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as Grateful Dead, Barlow also became the co-founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation in 2012. He was also part of the foundation's board of directors, and he worked closely with Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald.

Fans of Barlow will have the opportunity to relive his work through his memoir Mother American Night: My Life In Crazy Times. The book will be available at select bookstores starting June 5. The memoir will center on Barlow's career, his political involvements, his family life, and more.

Barlow is survived by his three daughters, namely Leah Justine, Anna Winter, and Amelia Rose Barlow.

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