BY 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