Larry Cordle fighting leukemia

cordThere is some sad news this morning from one of our bluegrass heroes. Larry Cordle, the Mighty Cord, has informed his fans that he is going through a serious battle with cancer.

Few artists in our music reach the heights that Cord has achieved. As both a singer and a songwriter, he has seen tremendous success. One of his early compositions, Highway 40 Blues, was a #1 hit for fellow Kentuckian Ricky Skaggs in 1983, during his pop country phase.

Since that time he has written radio hits for Garth Brooks, Loretta Lynn, George Strait, Kathy Mattea, Dierks Bentley, Trisha Yearwood, and Diamond Rio – all the while continuing to tour and record his songs with his own bluegrass band, Lonesome Standard Time. His most recent album, All Star Duets, reunites him in the studio with many of those country artists for grassy versions of these songs.

The disease he is fighting is known as chronic lymphatic leukemia, a malady that affects older people where the body fails to produce sufficient red blood cells. Fortunately, as Cord explains below, there are therapies available that are tailored to the specific genetic code of the cancer, and have a very good history of success.

He anticipates being able to work his full schedule while undergoing treatment, and asks that everyone pray for him as he fights back.

Larry shared his news last night on Facebook, in a tender message where he explains his disease, and apologizes for keeping it to himself so long.

Larry Cordle on the set of the Life Goes On video shoot - photo by Anthony PassamanoDear friends… though the hour is late, I find I cannot sleep so I thought I’d try to write a few words to you all to give you the latest news.

I hope this message finds you all healthy and happy and ready for the season to get underway. We played Knoxville Saturday night last, with the great Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.

I know some of y’all were on hand to see these guys and boy did they ever burn the earth. What a group!
We have a great season coming up and myself and LST are looking so forward to seeing y’all out on the Bluegrass trail this summer.

I wanted to give you all first hand information of my latest health crisis, so you could hear it directly from me and not be taken in by hearsay & rumors that are sure to fly around.

Late last summer I was diagnosed with chronic lymphatic leukemia. My family doctor sent me immediately to a great physician, Dr. Kirk Barnes at Tennessee Oncology.

He ran his own tests and scans confirming my family doctor’s diagnosis. He went to great lengths to explain the illness to me & my family and my dear friend Larry Shell, who made that 1st scary visit to the oncologist with me.

During our visit he told me that it was not a death sentence and that while there was not a cure, there were drugs (chemo) that would control the disease & that he had every confidence, that I would not be killed by this cancer but likely would die of something else somewhere, sometime in the distant future.

Well…… we’re all gonna die but since I know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour, I figured I was a winner either way it fell…. don’t get me wrong, I want to live & will fight this with every fiber in my body…. just saying, it don’t scare me like it used to.

Anyhow, I had my first chemo treatment today. I had a bad reaction to the drug about the 1st hour in, but the nurses & Dr. Kirk were all over it & told me it was normal…. gave me a lot of steroids (the reason I can’t sleep tonight) and had me past the reaction, after a few tense minutes.

It was a looonngg day for Wanda & me… Kelvey & Josh went with us this morning but Wanda hung in there with me all day. We got there at 8:30 this morning & it lasted until 4:00 PM… (Kelvey came back taking off early from her teaching job about 3:00 PM) … it left us all worn out, me feeling like I have the flu but thankfully surviving to fight another day. Tomorrow actually. I have my second treatment at 1:15 PM. They say this one isn’t as bad as today’s … I’m just ready to get it over with & get back to playing shows!

Also, just let me say what a great family I’ve got … thank you Lord for them.

I fully intend to work our full slate this year, so plan on coming out & seeing us whenever we’re in your area. My Dr. says I can juxtapose the treatments, hopefully, so as to not conflict with our season, if all goes as planned. He says I’ll be fine and he has encouraged me to work as long as I keep up with the plan & continue to feel good. Well, y’all know I’m all about being out there with the boys pickin’ & singing’, so that’s what I’m planning on doing!

Our schedule is posted online at

I will appreciate all of your prayers while I’m fighting this insidious disease…. I’m gonna be fine with the Good Lord’s help, and just remember you heard it from me!

I’m sorry I had withheld this from y’all (I had told close friends & family) but I just wanted to wait till It actually got bad enough to start having to have treatments before I disclosed the news.

I have been blessed with feeling good since I was diagnosed and just didn’t feel like worrying anyone unnecessarily. Never missed a show and don’t plan on missing any this year either!

In better news, My new Gospel CD is being mixed and I’m still hoping to have it out in June… I have the photos shot & the 1st single (Two Coats) with the fabulous Don Rigsby singing tenor with me, ready to go out to radio in a week or so. Though it will be awhile before I have the physical CD, just see us at shows & you can just sign up for it and we’ll ship it to you when it comes in.

I’m excited about this CD. I had 2 or 3 new songs that I got a chance to record, one I had previously recorded and I did some old timers that my Dad & Mom loved and used to do with their Gospel quartet. Folks I’ve got some great tracks here with some exciting guest singers, including, Carl Jackson, Jerry Salley, Val Storey, Bradley Walker, Don Rigsby … and a surprise or 2 for y’all ….. it’s my 1st all Gospel project & I am really proud of it. I just hope y’all will like it as much as I do.

OK…. that’s all I got for now. I’m gonna try to get some sleep. God Bless and keep you all and good night…… much love…… cord

I’m sure the entire Bluegrass Today family and readership will join us in wishing Larry Cordle success in his treatments so that we will have him with us a good long while yet.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.