Phil Leadbetter to Dale Ann Bradley

Here is some of the best bluegrass news we have been able to report in some time. Resonator guitarist Phil Leadbetter, affectionately known to friends and fans as “Uncle Phil,” is back on the road after 18 months of ultimately successful treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The cancer which had been initially resistant to chemo and radiation therapy finally succumbed to the stem cell transplant performed last month.

And now, little more than a month later, Phil can share news that he will be touring with Dale Ann Bradley, effective immediately.

“I am happy to announce that I have accepted a position with 5-Time IBMA Female Vocalist Of The Year Dale Ann Bradley, and The Dale Ann Bradley Band. I have been a longtime fan of hers, and was set to join her band prior to the formation of Grasstowne in 2006. And speaking of Grasstowne, it is a honor to get to be picking again with my life long buddy, Steve Gulley. I sure had missed picking and traveling with Steve.

Another life long buddy in the band is Greg Hodge who plays the mandolin. I have known Greg almost as long as I have Steve. I met them both when I was about 13 years old.

I am really loving the music!! Dale Ann is such a gifted singer. I will also continue to do dates with The Whites as needed.

It is a true pleasure to get to play with such great singers and musicians. Great people as well. I’m looking forward to seeing all my friends out on the road in 2013. I never thought I’d get this chance ever again to play music.

God has really been good to me and my family.”

Phil mentioned that he is hoping to get started on a new solo project soon as well.

For those who haven’t been following Leadbetter’s cancer saga, he provided an update since last month’s procedure, where cells harvested from his body were re-implanted following a near-terminal dose of chemotherapy.

“I had my stem cell transplant back on September 10th, and was released from the hospital on Sept 24th after 25 days in the hospital in strict isolation. It is one of the toughest times I can remember in my life. I was really sick this time, and was confined to my room. Same view out the same window every day. Had to keep my door closed at all times. It was a rough ordeal.

The chemo meds given prior to my stem cell were unlike any I have ever had. Probably as close to the feeling of death I have ever experienced.

There were several days of just waiting to see if the transplant had worked. Finally on September 20th, my stem cell doctor came in and told me my blood counts were starting to increase…..the sign that the stem cells had worked.

I’ve been really worn down since I have been home, but my doctor is very surprised with how well I am doing in my recovery. He says that my positive attitude and motivation to get well have really helped me more than I realize.

I won’t have a scan until the first week of December to show if the cancer is all the way gone, but my stem cell doctor is very positive. He’s not a guy who blows smoke. He is straight up, and that’s what I like about him. I figure I can take what he tells me to the bank.

This past week I asked him if he thought my cancer was gone, and he said ‘I have no reason at all to believe that you still have it…I feel pretty confident you are cancer free. Now, go on and live your life.’ I had waited 2 years to hear those words. It was almost like waking up from a bad dream. Just unreal to think this might be over.

It’s awesome to be able to make plans again for my life. I wasn’t sure I was gonna get this chance. I even picked a little the other day here at the house. I’m still weak, but I can feel the ‘normal’ coming back. I’m excited again about life. Excited again about the future….Excited again to start picking!!!!  Thanks everyone for all the support and the prayers. I know that’s what got me through this.

Looking forward to seeing all you guys again somewhere out on the road.”

What a wonderful end to what had been starting to sound like a hopeless story. Long live Uncle Phil!

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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.