(Fred Neil, Bruce Langhorne, Felix Pappalardi, and Jack Nitzsche) photo Fred Neil website
Bet you didn’t think that when Bob Dylan wrote his iconic piece, “Mr.Tambourine Man,” that a Mr. Tambourine Man actually existed. Well he does, and his name is Bruce Langhorne.
Langhorne, who was influenced by Staple Singers’ patriarch Roebuck Staples and Sandy Bull (one of the first artists to use tape recorders and loops on stage), started out as a session guitarist in the folk music scene back in the early 1960s, after playing at Gerde’s Folk City with other artists. Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, Odetta, Carolyn Hester, Richie Havens, Hugh Masekela, Tom Rush and Judy Collins are just a few of the artists Langhorne has worked with, but he became closely associated with Richard and Mimi Farina (sister of Joan Baez)) during the course of their career, appearing on their first album, Celebrations For a Grey Day circa 1964.
Langhorne, whose distinctive guitar playing style was due to the loss of two fingers on his hand, was also known for playing a large Turkish style tambourine, which Dylan said “was big as a wagon wheel.” Langhorne was the inspiration for “Mr. Tambourine Man” (although Dylan didn’t mention it to Langhorne at the time), and he is mentioned in the liner notes of Dylan’s Biograph album.
After playing on Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home, which would be Langhorne’s first folk-rock album, he went on to scoring films, first working with Peter Fonda (after his Easy Rider) on The Hired Hand in 1971, and later working with Jonathan Demme on Melvin and Howard in 1980. He did several films with both directors. Langhorne then ventured into the food business towards the early 1990s, developing Brother Bru Bru’s Original African Hot Pepper (all natural) Hot Sauce, which has been endorsed by Andrew Weil, M.D.