Bruce Langhorne was one of the more demanded studio guitar players of the sixties. He was rooted in Greenwich Village, and helped to the carrers of many singer-songwriters of the folk era.
He’s been credited on albums of Chad Mitchell Trio, Carolyn Hester, Odetta, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Richard & Mimi Fariña, Tom Rush, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Gordon Lightfoot, Steve Gillette, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Hugh Masekela, Lisa Kindred, Eric Andersen, Hoyt Axton, David Ackles, Mike Blomfield, John B. Sebastian and Bobby Neuwirth, among others.
Besides, in the seventies Bruce composed the soundtrack for movies like Stay Hungry and Melvin And Howard.
Do you remember when and how exactly you met Fred?
I think I first met Fred in Coconut Grove in Florida. I was playing a gig with Odetta and Fred was living in The Grove at the time. I’m not sure of the year.
You played on a rare album of Casey Anderson, “Bag I’m In” (1962), on which there was a cover of Fred’s “That’s The Bag I’m In”. Did you think at that time that Fred would become a legend later?
Among the performers of the time, Fred was already known for his fantastic voice. I don’t think I ever gave much thought to his possible future status as a legend.
Have you ever played with Fred when he played the Village cafés?
I don’t really remember.
Your contribution on albums of Richie Havens, Richard & Mimi Fariña, Peter Walker or Fred himself, made you an appropriate musician for some unusual folk albums. Did you notice that there was another stream behind the mainstream folk?
I think it was one eclectic movement that included a fabulously diverse group of individuals. Some of us just loved to play and sing the music, some of us were into poetry, some of us were into the historical and cultural background of the music, some of us were into the current and historical political implications and applications of the music (ie. In the labor movement and in the civil rights movement.), some of us were into sex, drugs and alcohol, but everyone was a little bit into everything.
It’s always been told that Fred’s voice was fabulous, but only a few talked about his magnificent way of strumming the guitar. You’re first of all a guitar player: what would you say about it?
Fred was able to integrate his guitar, his voice and his stage presence into a compelling performance. It is difficult to separate out and evaluate separate elements. Let’s leave it that he was a great songwriter, a fantastic singer and a wonderful songwriter.
Did you come back to record with Fred Neil at some studio session in the seventies?
I don’t think so. I moved to California and started scoring movies and TV. I kind of stopped doing sessions.
What did you think that Fred had that make him different to the all other folk-rock acts of the sixties?
Great presence. Great voice.