Neal Langford, who was once a bassist for the indie band the Shins, has passed away. The Shins’ lead singer, James Mercer, confirmed the sad news in a post on the band’s official Instagram, expressing that “one of the most cherished friends of my life has left us.” He also shared how Langford, a “tremendously significant figure” in his life, encouraged him to overcome his timidity and perform live. Mercer further lauded Langford as an “invaluable individual” who introduced him to Dinosaur Jr., Interview Magazine, and the Cocteau Twins. Mercer’s full tribute can be read below.
Before forming the Shins, Langford and Mercer were part of Flake Music (previously known as Flake) in the early 1990s. The duo joined forces in 1992, and Flake Music released a single album: 1997’s When You Land Here, It’s Time to Return. Intriguingly, the ninth track on this record is titled “The Shins.” The album was reissued by Sub Pop in 2014.
Flake Music’s roster also included Jesse Sandoval, Martin Crandall, and Phil Higgs, all of whom were part of the Shins’ debut in 2001, Oh, Inverted World. However, by the time the Shins were working on their second album, Chutes Too Narrow, Langford had parted ways with the band, having developed an interest in hot-air ballooning.
On July 21, North Carolina’s NBC affiliate WITN reported that Langford, recognized locally as a hot air balloonist, was discovered dead near a private dock in Bath Creek. The cause of death remains undisclosed, but law enforcement officials have ruled out any suspicion of foul play.
During a 2020 interview with Radio Milwaukee, Mercer detailed his early camaraderie with Langford, particularly highlighting Langford’s influence on his musical preferences. “He was simply the coolest kid I had ever encountered,” said Mercer, noting that Langford was residing in North Carolina with his partner at the time, and was “flourishing.”
In his final words honoring Langford, Mercer stated, “There’s more to this story than words can tell, but I loved him deeply, and owe him much. Neal Langford, you were always cherished, and you always will be.”
He continued, emphasizing the profound impact Langford had on his life: “He was with me in several bands, including the Shins, a highly significant person in my life. He was the one who nudged me to confront my introverted nature and take the stage. He encouraged me to face the microphone! He was the catholic school boy who taught me to sneak into the old El Rey theatre for a “free” beer. A truly invaluable person! He introduced me to Dinosaur Jr., Interview Magazine, the Cocteau Twins, and a multitude of other cool things.
He used to fetch me in his stepdad’s El Camino, and we’d enjoy his latest mixtape. Driving recklessly, often in places we shouldn’t have been. Those were the days. There’s much more to this story, but I loved him, and owe him so much. Neal Langford, you were, and will always be, loved.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Neal Langford’s death
Who was Neal Langford?
Neal Langford was a former bassist for the indie band the Shins. Prior to that, he was a member of Flake Music along with James Mercer in the early 1990s. Later, he developed an interest in hot-air ballooning.
What was Neal Langford’s cause of death?
The cause of Neal Langford’s death has not been disclosed. However, he was found dead near a private dock in Bath Creek, North Carolina. Law enforcement officials have ruled out foul play.
What was Neal Langford’s relationship with James Mercer?
Neal Langford and James Mercer were long-time friends and bandmates. They played together in Flake Music and the Shins. Mercer credits Langford for encouraging him to overcome his shyness and for influencing his musical tastes.
What did James Mercer say about Neal Langford in his tribute?
James Mercer shared a heartfelt tribute to Neal Langford on the Shins’ official Instagram. He called Langford one of his most cherished friends and a tremendously significant figure in his life. Mercer also mentioned that Langford introduced him to various music and culture, like Dinosaur Jr., Interview Magazine, and the Cocteau Twins.
What bands did Neal Langford play in?
Neal Langford played in Flake Music and the Shins. After leaving the Shins, he took up hot-air ballooning.
Where was Neal Langford living at the time of his death?
At the time of his death, Neal Langford was living in North Carolina with his partner.