Bruce Langhorne, “Mr. Tambourine Man” and Legendary Folk Guitarist

From Peter Fonda’s The Hired Hand (1971) – Watch on YouTube

Name a folk great. Dylan? Baez? Havens? Odetta? Bruce Langhorne played with them all. He is particularly remembered for his work with Dylan, who was inspired to write “Mr. Tambourine Man” after seeing Langhorne come into the studio with a large Turkish tambourine.

Langhorne was crucial to the sound that launched Dylan’s career. Playing his 1920 Martin guitar through a Fender Reverb amp with the aid of a pickup – and emulating the Roebuck “Pop” Staples tremolo style – he built a bridge between folk and rock. He had a unique style, influenced in part by the loss of two fingers and most of a thumb due to a childhood accident.*

In addition to his session work, Langhorne composed scores for films, including Peter Fonda’s 1971 The Hired Hand. A moving video of Peter Fonda visiting the ailing Langhorne late last year is on YouTube.

Here are 5 songs (plus “Mr. Tambourine Man”) featuring the acoustic and electric guitar work of Bruce Langhorne:

Carolyn Hester “I’ll Fly Away” (with Bob Dylan on harmonica)

Odetta “Anthem of the Rainbows”

Joan Baez “Farewell Angelina”

Tom Rush “You Can’t Tell A Book By The Cover”

Richard and Mimi Fariña “Reno, Nevada”

Bruce Langhorne, May 11, 1938-April 14, 2017

“Mr. Tambourine Man” on Spotify

*LGMR recently profiled jazz pianist Horace Parlan, another musician who turned a disability into distinctive sound.

Follow the LGMR Folk 2017 playlist here.



Bob Burns, Original Drummer for Lynyrd Skynryd

Drummers seem to always get the lowest billing. Hidden as they are behind showboat singers and theatrical guitarists, the spotlight always seems to evade them. For Robert Lewis Burns, Jr. (November 24, 1950-April 3, 2015), obscurity was compounded by competing with guitarists behind some of the most memorable licks and solos in rock. And it didn’t help that he left the band before it started opening for mega bands like The Who and Rolling Stones.

But Burns was rightfully on stage when surviving band members collected their honors at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.  After all, he had been with the band since the beginning, putting in long hours in “Hell House,” a stiflingly hot Jacksonville shed where the group perfected its songwriting and musicianship. And he was there for the first two albums, “Pronounced’ Leh-‘Nerd ‘Skin-‘Nerd” and “Second Helping,” which included the hits “Freebird” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Bob Burns gets back behind the drums for “Sweet Home Alabama” at The 12o Tavern in Marietta, GA. The singer is Artemus Pyle, the drummer who replaced him in 1974.

I always like to hear musicians talk about their work and the other musicians they work with. Here, Burns humbly explains how he got a writing credit on “Mississippi Kid.”


New York Times Obituary

Pitchfork Obituary