John Perry Barlow: Grateful Dead Songwriter Needs A Miracle

If you read his resume, you might assume that John Perry Barlow is sitting pretty in his golden years, able to afford everything he needs for the rest of his life. The man is, after all, a Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and a published author whose work appears in Wired, The New York Times, and other prestigious publications. Rock ‘n’ roll jam band, the Grateful Dead, recorded more than two dozen Barlow compositions, including “Black-Throated Wind,” “Hell in a Bucket,” “Picasso Moon,” “Mexicali Blues,” “I Need a Miracle,” “Estimated Prophet,” and “Looks Like Rain.”

Barlow co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Freedom of the Press Foundation and is a card-carrying member of the Internet Hall of Fame. It doesn’t seem fair that the 69-year-old songwriter who Yahoo Internet Life Magazine called “the Thomas Jefferson of Cyberspace” should be in such dire straits that he needs donations to pay his medical bills and living expenses, but that’s exactly how things have turned out for John Perry Barlow.

Benefit concert for Barlow

On October 24, the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, California, will host a special fundraising event for Barlow. Scheduled to appear at the “Everyday Miracle: A Benefit for John Perry Barlow” are Grateful Dead guitarist and Sweetwater co-owner, Bob Weir, Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads, Primus lead singer Les Claypool, folk music legend, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and members of Colorado-based jam band, String Cheese Incident. Sean Lennon and Lukas Nelson, sons of John and Willie respectively, are also slated to perform at the Monday night benefit concert. With ticket prices at $500 and $1,000, all proceeds from the show will be allocated to provide much-needed funds to help cover Barlow’s medical costs, post-op care, and daily living expenses.

As noted by Grateful Dead Family Album author Jerilyn Lee Brandelius, an online auction is being planned to benefit Barlow, as well. Persons who are interested in donating an item for inclusion in the auction are invited to send a photo of the item along with a description and contact info to Cash donations of any size are always appreciated and can be arranged through the John Perry Barlow Wellness Trust.

When Barlow came back from the dead

Barlow’s recent medical woes are not exactly new. In 2015, Barlow underwent spinal surgery and had a heart attack shortly thereafter. While recuperating in the hospital, he contracted a staph infection and died for eight minutes. However harrowing, the medical ordeal did not destroy his unique sense of humor which was in full force when he told The San Francisco Chronicle he’d looked down “the tunnel of eternity and it turned out to be a cheap carnival ride” devoid of cherubim, seraphim, or angels.

When asked by a Chronicle reporter whether he was on the mend, Barlow replied with the following.

“I keep thinking I am. The bottom line is that despite the fact that initial findings do not necessarily indicate the highway to heaven is out the back of your head, I don’t feel any less inclined to think that’s there. I told Weir about it. He said, ‘You weren’t dead enough.'”

For now, songwriter-sage John Perry Barlow is recovering in a San Francisco hospital. When he’s not doing that, John spends his days as a consultant with the Vanguard Group, the Global Business Network, the External Advisory Council of the National Computational Science Alliance, and the Diamond Cluster Exchange, where he provides brilliant commentary on such matters as cyber liberties, digitized intellectual goods, information economics, cryptography and privacy policies, and the social, cultural, and legal ramifications of Cyberspace, according to his bio at

John Perry Barlow is a man who grasps the difference between experience and information and definitely prefers the former. Here, in his own words, is Barlow’s philosophy for life on Earth:

[Featured Image by Joi | Wikimedia Commons |Cropped and resized | CC by 2.0]