NEW YORK: Bassist Phil Lesh, a founding member of rock legends the Grateful Dead, has revealed that he has cancer but expects to make a full recovery.
The 75-year-old, who was treated for prostate cancer in 2006, has spent several weeks at a clinic in Arizona to remove cancerous bladder tumors, he wrote on Facebook.
Lesh canceled shows this month of his side band, Phil Lesh and Friends, with Chris Robinson of Black Crowes fame.
But he said he expected to return to normal activity after two weeks and to go ahead with concerts, including a series of New Year s performances in Port Chester, New York.
“I am very fortunate to have the pathology reports show that the tumors are all non-aggressive, and that there is no indication that they have spread,” he wrote on the Facebook page of Terrapin Crossroads, the farm-to-table restaurant and concert venue he runs near San Francisco.
In 1998 Lesh underwent a liver transplant after a hepatitis C infection — after which he has regularly used his concerts as a platform to encourage fans to become organ donors.
The Grateful Dead were key figures in the counterculture starting in the 1960s and revolutionized fan engagement, with “Deadheads” traveling from show to show to see them.
While Lesh was not the most prolific Dead songwriter, he is considered influential in establishing the role of electric bass in rock, playing dominant chords instead of staying relegated to the background.
The Grateful Dead — minus best-known member Jerry Garcia, who died in 1995 — played five concerts in June and July that the band said would be its last and broke an online record for ticket requests.
The surviving band founders — with the sole exception of Lesh — have nonetheless planned a nationwide tour starting on October 29, calling themselves Dead and Company after retiring the Grateful Dead name.