Lyricist John Perry Barlow has passed away at the age of 70, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit he founded. He is best known for helping writing a number of Grateful Dead songs in the 1970s including “Looks Like Rain” and “Heaven Help the Fool.” However, he was also a poet and a fierce advocate for free expression in “cyperspace,” a term which he coined, according to the New York Daily News. Although the cause of death was not revealed, EFF did share that Barlow “passed away quietly in his sleep.”
“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,” EFF’s statement added. “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.” The organization was established to fight for civil liberties in the digital space.
Since news first broke, fans and friends have shared their admiration for Barlow online. “This is crushing. John Perry Barlow was the pen behind so many Grateful Dead classics. Black Throated Wind, Estimated Prophet, Mexicali Blues, Music Never Stopped, Looks Like Rain. His partnership with @BobWeir was legendary,” one fan wrote on Twitter.” Another added: “I knew John Perry Barlow from the early days of Twitter, when the place was like a global coffee shop we all staggered into in the mornings. He was never less than kind, funny and warmly human. Good night, John.”