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Phil Leadbetter passes away

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Oct 14, 2021 - 2:49:44 PM
2280 posts since 8/3/2008

Trying to process this news.

I mourn Phil's passing.


Oct 14, 2021 - 3:56:25 PM



593 posts since 8/10/2008

So sorry. Our sympathies to Matt and the rest of his family.

Oct 14, 2021 - 4:18:13 PM



593 posts since 8/10/2008

Originally posted by badger

So sorry. Our condolences to Matt and the rest of his family.

Oct 14, 2021 - 4:41:58 PM

102 posts since 11/28/2010

So sorry. Regret never getting to hear Phil in person.
Prayers and condolences to Ledbetter family.

Oct 14, 2021 - 5:39:04 PM

Andy B


153 posts since 11/4/2008

This is very sad news. I met Phil at a festival in New York’s southern tier region in 1992 when he was playing with J.D. Crowe and we played at the same festival. He was extremely friendly and years later when I connected with him again he remembered that show and said that the band got lost trying to find their way out of there on the way home. A great musician and a truly decent human being. My condolences to his family.

Oct 14, 2021 - 6:49:05 PM



281 posts since 5/11/2018

Really sad news. I’ll be praying for his family and friends.

Oct 14, 2021 - 6:55:30 PM

79 posts since 8/12/2013

Don’t know what to say. Phil was so sick for so long and suffered so. Never saw him “down” though. His body had to be so weak from all his other illnesses that I’m sure it just couldn’t fight of COVID. I’m so grateful for the few times I got to be around him. What a wonderful human being. Like everyone else my thoughts and prayers are with his family. Must be some beautiful music in heaven tonight.

Oct 15, 2021 - 5:42:29 AM

429 posts since 1/23/2010

So sad to hear.

Oct 15, 2021 - 6:04:41 AM

1315 posts since 8/4/2008
Online Now

He was a great player and a genuinely nice guy. I got to interact with him at ResoSummit and he was a gentleman.

Oct 15, 2021 - 6:54:48 AM

11 posts since 5/31/2021

I saw him with J.D. and the New South in 1998 at Steve Kaufman’s mandolin camp. He impressed the heck out of me then. I’ve since tried my hand at playing the dobro and his talent and skill was even more impressive. May he Rest In Peace

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Oct 15, 2021 - 9:40:41 AM
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2280 posts since 8/3/2008

Phil Leadbetter is in my thoughts this morning. I've been thinking about our first communications and meetups.

I first became aware of Phil back in the early-mid 90's. He was with Crowe back then, I owned the records and was a fan. I'd probably been playing dobro about 15 years.

Those of you might be aware of my geekish tendencies. Those tendencies extended to my day time job at the time, working for a small Internet provider (ISP) in Maryland. Now this was before the explosion that was to become the World Wide Wide and was a period where email and email discussion groups ruled the roost.

I was a subscriber to @Frank Godbey's (insanely popular) “bgrass-l” and thought it would be cool to duplicate that type of platform for dobro/Dobro/resonator guitar. It turns out the ISP would make its “listserv” application available to me and I launched “dobro-l” , soon to become “resoguit-l” (thanks Gibson).

Resoguit-l grew and become home to players and “Players”. It was a cool place, with names like Ickes, Auldridge, Taylor, Douglas and a host of others either contributing directly or making themselves known to me.

Phil was one of these guys. I don't have a record of when he joined but he made himself known. He seemed like a cool, likeable guy. We chatted.

At some point in time JD and them were booked at the “Old Schoolhouse” in Lucketts, VA and Phil invited me down there for a meet and greet. I jumped on the invite, met Crowe and the boys and got my first bear hug from Phil!

You see, Phil was a huggable kinda guy. Over the years, usually at IBMA, Resosummit or some festival we'd arrange a meet and I always got the hug.

Along with the hug it was always “hey buuuudy” and/or “How ya doing Ha 'ard”. We'd tell stories. I'd play his latest guitar. Mostly small talk. What was left unsaid were his widely known health issues. He just wanted to be surrounded by his music and his people. His magic elixir.

What kind of a man was Phil? This anecdote may illustrate. Back in the day Gibson announced a Phil Leadbetter artist model. This should have been a high honor. Phil certainly deserved it. Unfortunately, the execution didn't live up to the concept and there were issues with the instrument.

When Phil acknowledged the problems he offered to remedy the issues personally, requesting that guitars be sent to HIM and that he'd seek a remedy with the maker. He also requested that future orders be placed through him and he assumed responsibility for final approval on each guitar.

Phil's word was his bond.

I don't recall if my last meetup was at a Joe Val Festival seminar or Resosummit. Phil was moving a tad slow but as enthusiastic and effervescent as usual. I recall playing his Recording King, signature model and him responding to an audience question with “I dunno but “Ha 'ard's over there. Ask him.”

We continued to communicate until a few weeks ago. We chatted about the extraordinary “The New Masters Of Slide "Spider Sessions" which he produced. I got the tee shirt.

Phil is not gone from my life. Not his music nor the sound of his voice.

On the other hand, I'll never get another hug.

Oct 15, 2021 - 10:33:11 AM
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268 posts since 5/1/2012


Thanks for posting - it is a fitting tribute. While I have an RK signature model, I was never fortunate to meet or even hear Phil play in person. I'll miss him anyway. Heart felt sympathy for his friends and family!

Oct 15, 2021 - 12:10:52 PM

677 posts since 1/18/2012

Howard, thanks for adding even more color to Phil’s very colorful life.

I think you were still at Beard when I sent my Leadbetter Dobro in for a new cone, adjustments, and a Nashville pick up.

That dobro has certainly become more special to me now.

RIP Mr. Leadbetter
Peace to his family and friends.

Oct 15, 2021 - 5:19:45 PM



125 posts since 2/19/2017

wow big news...He was a great Player. I am going to steal some of his licks yet. Cancer is brutal, and His spirit is free now. I'll leave my thoughts of what I know Covid to really be for now. Never saw him live but I heard Phils Playing when they introduced his Recording King model, and he was a fiery player.

Oct 16, 2021 - 3:24:36 PM



290 posts since 6/4/2012

This is the headline we have all been dreading, and yes, like Howard said, it is very difficult to process. A world without Phil. He had a very active year, and gave us a lot, with his spider sessions CD, his Facebook weekly sessions and updates, and his whole health journey, never complaining, just informing and asking for our prayers. I got to be in two of his classes during my three trips to ResoSummit, and both times he came over after class to ask how I enjoyed the class. People have used the words ‘kind’ and ‘gentleman’ a lot to describe him, and that certainly is how he came across to me. Plus, he was hilarious!!

Oct 17, 2021 - 2:08:50 PM
Players Union Member



724 posts since 9/2/2008

I always appreciated Phil's smile and attitude on the occasions I ran into him at IBMA and ResoSummit. I do remeber one anecdote at IBMA, when Wildfire was doing a feature main stage set. The band was all dressed up in black tuxedos (Phil didn't seem like a tuxedo guy, but he get through it...). I was talking to Mike Auldridge at the time, and Phil came up and asked Mike if he could play his own Mike Auldridge Signature guitar. He was in the midst of promoting the aforementioned G*bs*n signature model, and it would have been to his advantage to play his own guitar. But he wanted to play Mike's because it looked better with the band's stage outfits! Just a small way he showed his humility. Condolences to his family.

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