Andrew Lloyd Webber missed last night's Tony Awards celebration marking the 25th anniversary of the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway due to ill health.
The composer, 65, said in a statement that he has been in constant pain since October after having treatment for a problem with his right thigh, followed by two major back operations.
Sir Andrew said he was “devastated” not to be able to attend last night’s commemorative Tony Awards.
“My colleagues felt that it is time to explain why I have been unable to participate fully in my professional and social life over the last eight months,” he said.
“I have been in constant pain since October 2012 following treatment for a problem with my right thigh. As a consequence I have undergone countless medical procedures and two major back operations.
“This has affected my ability to undertake my normal work schedule. I was unable to attend the 25th anniversary of The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway or the opening of The Wizard of Oz in Toronto, Canada earlier this year.
“I also had to miss the funeral of my good friend Michael Winner and have had to cancel many other personal engagements.”
The Oscar-winning composer added he had refrained from saying anything until now, but had “reluctantly agreed” with his colleague that he needed to explain why he had to withdraw from last night’s Tony Awards.
Sir Andrew was diagnosed with prostate cancer in October 2009. The condition was caught early and he was given the all-clear several months later.
Despite Sir Andrew's absence, British theatre dominated last night's Tonys - the equivalent of the Olivier Awards - with feelgood musical Kinky Boots, with songs by pop star Cyndi Lauper, scooping six awards, and RSC export Matilda the Musical taking four gongs.