Barbero was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At the age of fourteen, her father moved the family to New York City, where she attended high school, graduating in 1978. After high school, Barbero moved to Key West, Florida before returning to Minneapolis.
Before Babes in Toyland, Barbero dropped out of the University of Minnesota and worked as a waitress. She had never played any musical instrument before but had always wanted to learn to play drums, and she did when Kat Bjelland asked her to start a band with her. After the dissolution of Babes in Toyland in the early 2000s, Barbero worked as a music manager.
She was also part owner of the now defunct Minneapolis label Spanish Fly Records, whose roster included Smut, Dumpster Juice, Milk, REO Speedealer, Sleep Capsule, and Likehell.
In 2006, Lori was awarded with an Artist of Distinction award by Sound Unseen for her continuous contribution to the Minneapolis Rock and Roll scene.