The Shins’ former bassist, Neal Langford, has died aged 50.
The American indie rock band’s frontman James Mercer, 52, confirmed the sad news on the band’s official Instagram page in a touching tribute, in which he credited his late ex-bandmate and best friend with helping him get over his stage fright.
He began: “Just want to let you guys know one of the best friends I’ve ever had has passed.
“He was in several bands with me including the Shins. A very important figure in my life you could say.
“I mean this is the guy who talked me into getting over my shyness and up on the stage. He put me in front of the microphone!”
Recalling their antics growing up, he continued: “He was the catholic school kid who showed me how to sneak into the back of the old El Rey theatre and get a “free” beer. An invaluable person! Who turned me onto Dinosaur Jr. and Interview Magazine and the Cocteau Twins and countless other piles of cool stuff. He would pick me up in his stepdad’s El Camino and we’d listen to his latest mixtape. With our swerve on. Driving when we probably shouldn’t have been. Where we shouldn’t have been. We were like that. A long time ago. There’s too much to the story but I loved him. And I owe him a lot. Neal Langford you were always loved and you always will be.”
Neal, who co-owned hot air balloon company, IBX Balloon Flight, and was a balloon pilot, was pronounced dead on July 21, after being found in Bath Creek in South Carolina, near a private dock, WITN reports.
At the time of writing, the musician’s cause of death is not known. However, it’s not being treated as suspicious.
James and Neal started out in the band Flake, which became Flake Music, in the 90s.
Drummer Jesse Sandoval formed The Shins in 1996, with Neal coming on board in 1999, and Flake Music going their separate ways.
They released their debut studio album, ‘Oh, Inverted World’, in 2001.
However, Neal quit two years later, before they released their second record, ‘Chutes Too Narrow’.
It was their third album, 2007’s ‘Wincing the Night Away’ (2007), that proved to be their biggest success, scoring them a Grammy Award nomination.
They then signed to Columbia Records. However, frontman James parted ways with the original lineup, calling it “an aesthetic decision”.
After five years away, The Shins returned with the LP ‘Port of Morrow’, in 2012.
Their latest record is 2017’s ‘Heartworms’.