The elite Fountain Valley School, south of Colorado Springs, was founded in 1930 as a private boarding and day school, its alumni list dotted with students with famous family names.
Incongruous as it might seem, the school has a connection to that legendary ‘60s drug-world, tie-dyed music group The Grateful Dead. And it’s all about two 15-year-old sophomores at Fountain Valley School in 1962: Bob Weir, who became one of the Dead’s co-founders, and group lyricist John Perry Barlow.
They weren’t exactly exemplary students, reports agree, and the new wild-child buddies were separated. Weir was kicked out, Barlow later graduated. But it was the beginning of a lifelong friendship and music relationship.
After Weir was expelled, he spent the summer at Barlow’s family home, Bar Cross Ranch in Cora, Wyo. Then he went back to home base south of San Francisco, where the rhythm guitarist and singer eventually teamed up with musicians including Ron “Pigpen” McKernan and guitarist Jerry Garcia. Yes, they became the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame Grateful Dead.
Barlow, who graduated with high honors in comparative religion from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and was an acknowledged early internet expert, reportedly introduced the musicians to Timothy Leary (read that, LSD). Barlow had a long list of music credits with Weir. He died in 2018.
In 2015, Weir, with a long music-world history that continues today with Dead & Company, was invited back to Fountain Valley School to accept his diploma, albeit an honorary one, at the school’s 85th anniversary. He performed during the reunion festivities.