The Dead's Phil Lesh Remains Active Despite Poor Health Rumors - Rolling Stone
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The Dead’s Phil Lesh Remains Active Despite Poor Health Rumors

Despite the fact that intimates keep whispering that
Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh
needs a liver transplant, the musician sat in this past Saturday
(Nov. 6) with longtime Dead stalwart Bruce Hornsby
during the latter’s two-week stint at Yoshi’s Jazz
in Oakland, Calif.

Lesh had attended a Hornsby show earlier in the week with his
family, and came back on the weekend with the intention of playing.
Both Lesh and the Other Ones guitarist
Steve Kimock joined Hornsby’s band for the last
forty-five minutes of their set, playing extended versions of
Grateful Dead war-horses “Scarlet Begonias,”
“Loser” and “Tennessee Jed,” as well as Hornsby’s “Rainbow
Cadillac.” According to fans, Lesh looked “remarkably fit, and
preppy in his sweater and khakis.”

As a testimony to his health, it looks like Lesh plans to be
“dropping some more bombs” in the near future — which in Dead-ese
means he plans to cut loose on his trademark bass. According to
promoter Bill Graham Presents, Lesh will resume
the benefit concerts for his Unbroken Chain
that he had staged every other month this past
year at the historic Fillmore Auditorium in San
Francisco. His last show was held on August 8, before he fell ill.
“We don’t have a confirmed date for ‘Phil & Friends,’ but we
are holding a tentative date around Christmas for him,” a
spokesperson at BGP said.

The Dead community has been in an uproar over Lesh’s health after
he was admitted to a Bay Area hospital on September 8; he
reportedly underwent a battery of tests and treatment for a massive
blockage to the liver. Deadheads first learned of the problem when
Dead lyricist Robert Hunter posted the following
message in the

“Phil went into intensive care Tuesday night with what looked like
a critical liver problem. He seems stable now and will be able to
go home.” Dead archivist and nber publicist Dennis
attempted to nip all speculation about Lesh’s
health in the bud immediately, telling reporters that the
fifty-eight-year-old bassist was “not in the realm of difficulty.
He does have some long-term problems, but they’re working on

On September 13, which just so happened to be Phil and Jill Lesh’s
fourteenth anniversary, the bassist’s wife posted a message on the
official home page for the Dead explaining that her husband “wants
all of you to know that he feels as though he has been bathed in
the infinite light of love from so many people and that he feels
stronger every minute because of it.” Adding “Please keep the
prayers and healing energy coming, it’s working.”

The most recent speculation is that Lesh’s problems are the result
of Hepatitis C, the very same strain of the disease that caused
Naomi Judd to forgo touring three years ago, and
the same strain that she recently revealed that she was free from
on Ralph Edward‘s show on TNN.

In This Article: The Grateful Dead


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