Neal Langford, former bassist for the indie group The Shins, has tragically passed away at the age of 50. Langford was found dead in a creek near a private dock in Bath, North Carolina, where he lived. The Beaufort County Sheriff’s office stated that foul play is not suspected, but an investigation is ongoing.
The news of Langford’s death was shared by The Shins’ frontman, James Mercer, in a heartfelt tribute on Instagram. Mercer described Langford as one of his best friends and an important figure in his life. He credited Langford with helping him overcome his shyness and encouraging him to pursue music. Mercer also reminisced about the adventures they had together, from sneaking into theaters to listening to music in Langford’s stepdad’s El Camino.
Langford’s musical journey began in 1992 when he and Mercer played together in a band called Flake Music. The band eventually evolved into The Shins, and Langford played bass on their debut album, Oh, Inverted World. The album received critical acclaim and became an indie hit. Langford’s contributions to the album helped establish The Shins as a prominent indie rock band.
After the success of Oh, Inverted World, Langford left The Shins before the release of their second album, Chutes Too Narrow. He would not appear on any subsequent albums by the band. In 2012, Langford and former Shins keyboardist Marty Crandall formed a new band called Sad Baby Wolf, which released an EP in 2013.
Aside from his musical endeavors, Langford was also known for his passion for hot air ballooning. He co-owned and started the company IBX Balloon Flights in 2018. Langford’s love for hot air ballooning was mentioned in a 2009 interview with Jesse Sandoval, the former drummer of Flake Music and The Shins. Sandoval suggested that Langford was fired from The Shins because of his dedication to ballooning.
Langford’s death has left a void in the music community, with fans and fellow musicians mourning his loss. His contributions to The Shins’ early success and his impact on Mercer’s life will always be remembered.