Barry Melton


How many people do you know who grew up wanting to be a lawyer only to have their parents recoil in horror and demand they become a musician instead? No, it doesn’t happen very often, but that is the story of Barry “Fish” Melton.

And thanks to his parents he made an indelible mark on the world of rock music with perhaps the most iconic protest song of the Vietnam era. Remember ” … and it’s one, two, three, what are we fighting for?” Country Joe and the Fish performed it live at Woodstock, and that version of the song is still played on the radio today.

The “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag” made Melton famous, but not fulfilled. Even on tour he carried law books with him to study. Finally, when he was in his 30s, he decided to live his dream. And without ever going to law school, he passed the California Bar and became an attorney!

He’s worked as a public defender for years and handled some high-profile cases, including a death penalty trial that got national attention. Barry talked with Growing Bolder about his early memories, his life as a rocker, what it’s like to tour today and his continuing law career.