John Perry Barlow

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John Perry Barlow (born October 3, 1947) is an American poet and essayist, a retired Wyoming cattle rancher, and a cyberlibertarian[1] political activist who has been associated with both the Democratic and Republican parties. He is also a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead and a founding member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Since May 1998, he has been a Fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.



Born in Sublette County, Wyoming, Barlow attended elementary school in a one-room schoolhouse. He was a student at the Fountain Valley School in Colorado. There Barlow met Bob Weir, who would later join the music group the Grateful Dead. Weir and Barlow maintained contact throughout the years; a frequent visitor to Timothy Leary's facility in Millbrook, New York, Barlow introduced the musical group to Leary in 1967. In 1969, Barlow graduated with high honors in comparative religion from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and spent two years traveling. In 1971, he began practicing animal husbandry in Cora, Wyoming, at his family's Bar Cross Land and Livestock Company. He sold that business in 1988.

The seeds of the Barlow-Weir collaboration were sown at a Grateful Dead show at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York, in February 1971. Until this point, Weir had mostly worked with resident Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Hunter preferred that those who sang his songs stuck to his "canonical" lyrics rather than improvising additions or rearranging words. A feud erupted backstage over a couplet in "Sugar Magnolia" from the band's most recent release (most likely "She can dance a Cajun rhythm/Jump like a Willys in four wheel drive"), culminating in a disgruntled Hunter summoning Barlow and telling him "take him (Weir) -- he's yours.[2]" In the fall of 1971, with a deal for a solo album in hand and only two songs completed, Weir and Barlow began to write together for the first time.

Fueled by massive amounts of Wild Turkey[citation needed] and a traditional Native American creativity spell recommended by band friend Rolling Thunder, the twosome hammered out such enduring songs as "Cassidy," "Mexicali Blues," and "Black Throated Wind," all three of which would remain in the repertoires of the Grateful Dead and Weir's varied solo projects for years to come. Other songs to emerge from the Weir-Barlow collaboration include "Let It Grow," "The Music Never Stopped," "Estimated Prophet," "I Need A Miracle," "Lost Sailor," "Saint of Circumstance," and "Throwing Stones." Barlow also did collaborations with Grateful Dead keyboardists Brent Mydland then later Vince Welnick.

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