I’m With Barlow, Hunter And Lesh

by | Dec 1, 2005

The New York Times: Faced with growing anger among its fans and divisions within the band itself, the Grateful Dead on Wednesday said it was reconsidering its decision to disallow downloads of the band’s concert recordings from a large Internet archive.

John Perry Barlow, a Grateful Dead lyricist, supports file sharing.

With more than 4,200 signatures on an online petition calling for a boycott of Grateful Dead products – from tie-dyed T-shirts to kitsch emblazoned with the band’s dancing bear and skeleton icons – the band’s spokesman said the members were still working out an official position on the controversy.

“The band has not fully made up its mind,” the spokesman, Dennis McNally, said. “Things have already changed, and God only knows if they’ll change some more.”

Phil Lesh, the band’s bass player, posted a statement on his own Web site (phillesh.net) on Wednesday, saying he had not known that band representatives the week before Thanksgiving had asked the operators of the Live Music Archive (archive.org) to stop allowing downloads of Grateful Dead concerts.

John Perry Barlow, one of the band’s lyricists, said he had had a “pretty heated discussion” on Tuesday with Bob Weir, the Dead guitarist and singer, over the extent of the restrictions.

Mr. Barlow said the blanket request to the Live Music Archive was driven by Mr. Weir and the band’s drummers, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann. “It was almost as if they had just discovered it was happening, even though it’s been online for at least three years,” he said.

Mr. Barlow said the band’s other primary lyricist, Robert Hunter, did not wish to get involved in the public debate but supported his position. But the lyricists are not full voting members of the band, and given the apparent 3-1 split among the four surviving performing members in favor of disallowing the downloads, Mr. Barlow said he was not sure how the issue would play out.