Gary Leslie Langston Sr., whose talent as a guitarist and rhythm and blues singer took him from the street corners of Baltimore to the plush clubs and lounges of Atlantic City, N.J., died Monday of a heart attack at his Absecon, N.J., residence. He was 45.
Known as "Boo," he appeared with his band Cheers on April 19 at the EastportClipper in Annapolis.
Living in Towson in the 1970s and 1980s, he performed with local bands, including Both Worlds and Then and Now. He often appeared at Warfield's in the Towson Sheraton Hotel and at clubs and hotels in Ocean City.
Mr. Langston, who used a custom-made white Paul Reid Smith electric guitar, was self-taught, taking up the instrument when he was 14. He began playing with garage bands and on street corners in Cherry Hill and West Baltimore, then with United Chair, the Brockingtons, Renaud and the Junction, Winfield Parker and the Mighty Upsetters.
In 1975, he and several other local musicians formed Both Worlds. The group released three albums, featuring the critically acclaimed "I Want the World to Know."
Both Worlds had another hit with "Doncha Hide It," selected as a Billboard top album pick in January 1978. That year, the group toured nationally for six months with the Miracles, the Four Tops, the Temptations, the Crystals and David Ruffin.
"Gary was the lead singer, rhythm guitarist and front man and was lead on songs that simply mobilized the audience," said Scott Johnson, a Baltimore entertainment attorney and former keyboard player.
"As a performer, I've never seen anyone more at home on the stage than Gary. He was a fearless and natural musician who exuded raw and powerful musicianship. When he started playing his trademark chunka-chunka rhythm guitar it simply drove audiences wild," Mr. Johnson said.
"He couldn't read music, but he could write it and play the hell out of it," Mr. Johnson said.
Mr. Johnson described Mr. Langston's voice as "having great range and one that was expressive and emotional and one that could really deliver a song."
J.D. Considine, a music critic for The Sun, said, "He knew how to draw from a range of styles and at his best brought both the immediacy of soul music and the intimacy of jazz to the music he sang. Both Worlds was one of the best bands Baltimore had at the time."
In 1978, Mr. Langston left Both Worlds, which disbanded in 1979. He later sang and toured with One for All and Then and Now before founding Cheers, the Atlantic City-based band, with Don Kreutzer, a trumpet player.
Mr. Langston was born in Baltimore and was raised by relatives after the death of his parents when he was a boy. He was a 1968 graduate of Douglass High School.
His marriage ended in divorce.
Services will be held at 10: 30 a.m. today at Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home, 6500 York Road.
He is survived by two sons, Gary L. Langston Jr. and Leetra Langston, both of Baltimore; three brothers, Joseph and Rufus C. Langston and Tyrone F. Langston Sr., all of Baltimore; two sisters, Linda Harmon of Baltimore and Blanche Borden of Snyder, N.Y.; three grandchildren; and his companion of 22 years, Mary Buddemeier of Towson.
Pub Date: 4/26/96