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OBIT: Bruce Langfeld, Rocker, Writer, Sad Man

brucelangfeld.JPGBY GAYLE RONAN SIMS INQUIRER STAFF Bruce Langfeld, 45, singer-songwriter and guitarist for roots-rock band Bag of Hammers and others in the 1990s, was found dead on Sunday in his Center City apartment.Jeff Moran, spokesman for the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office, said the cause of death is pending lab tests.

“He was last seen alive 10 days prior to his body being found, but the report does not indicate he was dead that long,” Moran said. “No one has told me that foul play is suspected.”

“My brother struggled with depression most of his life,” said his sister, Nancy Langfeld, who lives in New Hampshire. “He had a huge network of friends in New York and Philadelphia who deeply cared about him. That made me feel better about being so far away.”

Her brother, she said, had been taking medication for depression and had been hospitalized in 2005 and 2006 after suffering fainting spells.

Mr. Langfeld was self-taught on the guitar, lap steel guitar, bass and mandolin. He played with a series of Philadelphia rock bands in the 1980s and 1990s, eventually becoming the front man for the roots-rock trio Bag of Hammers. He wrote the lyrics for the group’s self-released, self-titled 1994 album.

He was described in a 1995 Inquirer report as “a tough, inventive guitarist” with “estimable Neil Young/Bob Dylan-influenced songwriting skills.” The band broke up a few years later.

“Bruce was an excellent guitarist,” said Ted Warren, former lead singer for Go to Blazes, for which Mr. Langfeld wrote songs and played guitar in Philadelphia and New York in the 1990s. “But what really grabbed me about Bruce’s songs were the lyrics. His writing had mystical references, stream of consciousness, and was poignantly autobiographical. It was dark stuff.”

INQUIRER: Sing goddamn!–Ezra Pound, Ancient Music

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6 Responses to “OBIT: Bruce Langfeld, Rocker, Writer, Sad Man”

  1. Zoe Strauss Says:

    My deepest sympathy to his friends and family.

  2. Phawker » Blog Archive » MAILBAG: Behind Blue Eyes Says:

    […] “Singer, songwriter, sad man”? [Actually, it said ROCKER, WRITER, SAD MAN–Ed.] […]

  3. Phawker » Blog Archive » MAILBAG: Behind Blue Eyes II Says:

    […] Phawker, Come on, “sad man” Why is that necessary? Why not something more positive and uplifting, and respectful of his spirit? I’m not the only one irked by your choice of words. […]

  4. Scott Says:

    Oh please! Committing suicide is the cheapest, lamest, most easiest way to go. Life fucking sucks, we all go to bed thinking of ways to end it all, but we don’t. Let’s stop lionizing these drama queens who cut out before the movie ends and celebrate long, boring lives or tragically cut short ones.
    One more thing, don’t give me that shit about being “clinically depressed”. EVERYONE is depressed, EVERYTHING sucks and EVERYTHING is going to end badly, you might as well hang out and enjoy the closing credits. The only people who are truly happy in this world have frontal lobotomies or are horny, 18 year old billionaires.

  5. Elizabeth Says:

    Scott, that’s a pretty rude thing for you to say about Bruce. I actually was an old friend of Bruce’s from HIGH SCHOOL. I used to hang out with him and the “Militia Hill” gang of guys he grew up with in his neighborhood. Way back then, Bruce was known to be “depressed”. He was brilliant intellectually and musically back then, at 18 years old. I was saddened to read in the paper that he died. And saddened more to not know what a known singer-songwriter he had become in the Philadelphia area. Last time I saw him was at the Mann at the orchestra around 10 years ago. He didn’t even mention all of the things in the music world he was involved with. He was a very humble person who I’m sure lived a tortured life. I knew him 30 years ago. Before you go slamming somebody, think first. I’m sure Bruce didn’t commit suicide, if that is indeed what happened (may have been accidental) to attract attention and Drama to himself. That wasn’t Bruce’s nature.

  6. Lubos Petrik Says:

    Why not remove this email thread of controversy off your website? It might get in the way of remembering Bruce. Leave the obituary. Leave the comments on the obituary’s content. Use the Inquirer headline: Bruce Langfeld, 45, songwriter, guitarist. Thanks for your consideration. Lubos Petrik

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