Barlow was a school friend of the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir when they were teenagers. They later began collaborating in the early '70s after Weir fell out with his go-to lyricist at the time, Robert Hunter. This led to Barlow penning the lyrics to tunes like "Cassidy", "Mexicali Blues," "Black-Throated Wind," "Looks Like Rain" and more.
Barlow is listed on the Dead's website as a band member; as of press time, the main page of the site features a tribute image honouring Barlow. He was not, however, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the rest of the band in 1994 (although Robert Hunter was).
Weir posted the following tribute tweet for Barlow:
This life is fleeting, as we all know - the Muse we serve is not. John had a way of taking life's most difficult things and framing them as challenges, therefore adventures. He was to be admired for that, even emulated. He'll live on in the songs we wrote... pic.twitter.com/E29drq80du— Bob Weir (@BobWeir) February 8, 2018
Barlow was also an online activist. The obit from Electronic Frontier Foundation reads, "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."
Barlow was also involved involved in politics helped campaign for Dick Chaney back in the '70s. He later questioned Chaney over America's invasion of Iraq, and he condemned Donald Trump. He co-founded the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
He is survived by three daughters. Listen to Rhino Records' Spotify playlist "Remembering John Perry Barlow" here.