Phil Leadbetter has given almost his entire life to the furtherance of bluegrass music. Working as a sideman on reso-guitar for J.D. Crowe, Dale Ann Bradley, and The Whites, and as a partner or leader of groups like Grasstowne and Wildfire, Phil has been highly visible on the circuit since he was a teenager. One the industry side, he has been involved in booking representation, festival management, and instrument sales. And all along, he has been widely recognized as having the among the biggest hearts in our music, always there at the ready when someone in our business needs a hand, or just a good laugh.
Life has dealt Phil a rough hand, especially unkind given his kind and generous nature. He is a five time cancer survivor, who has undergone multiple rounds of chemotherapy and two of stem cell replacement therapy. Through it all he maintained a positive attitude, as though he knew for certain he would be back each time.
Now, while in stage 4 kidney failure, Phil is hospitalized for COVID-19. For several days it looked like this might be the one hurdle he couldn’t jump, but after several tense nights, it appears that we may have our dear Uncle Phil around a while longer.
Debbie Gulley, wife of the recently deceased Steve Gulley, has organized a GoFundMe campaign to help Phil and his family with the massive costs associated with his ongoing treatment. She is doing so in response to both her longstanding friendship with Phil and his wife, and in recognition of Steve’s deep relationship with Phil, but also in honor of all the support she received from the Leadbetters while Steve was dying from cancer last summer.
Once again, we know that the bluegrass community will be proud to offer whatever assistance they can for a beloved member of our community, Phil Leadbetter. Donations can be securely made online at the GoFundMe site which Debbie created. They are listing $25,000 as their fundraising goal.
Prayers are most decidedly welcome as well.