Phil Leadbetter, long known for his supporting roles in various traditional bluegrass bands, began playing professionally when he was only 14. Leadbetter landed some impressive gigs that first year, earning a job at what is now Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, as well as performing at the White House for President Gerald Ford. Later Leadbetter appeared in several successful groups, including the Vern Gosdin Band, the Grandpa Jones Band, and New Dawn, the official band of the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville. He appeared on several albums with J.D. Crowe and the New South beginning in 1991, including 1994's Grammy-nominated album Flashback (Rounder). His first solo effort, Philibuster, earned critical praise for its all-instrumental showcase of Leadbetter's technically proficient and soulful Dobro playing. Phil Leadbetter died on October 14, 2021 after being diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus; he was 59 years old.
by Stacia Proefrock