Bruce Langfeld, 45, singer-songwriter and guitarist for roots-rock band Bag of Hammers and others in the 1990s, was found dead on Sunday in his Center City apartment.
Jeff Moran, spokesman for the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office, said the cause of death is pending lab tests.
"He was last seen alive 10 days prior to his body being found, but the report does not indicate he was dead that long," Moran said. "No one has told me that foul play is suspected."
"My brother struggled with depression most of his life," said his sister, Nancy Langfeld, who lives in New Hampshire. "He had a huge network of friends in New York and Philadelphia who deeply cared about him. That made me feel better about being so far away."
Her brother, she said, had been taking medication for depression and had been hospitalized in 2005 and 2006 after suffering fainting spells.
Mr. Langfeld was self-taught on the guitar, lap steel guitar, bass and mandolin. He played with a series of Philadelphia rock bands in the 1980s and 1990s, eventually becoming the front man for the roots-rock trio Bag of Hammers. He wrote the lyrics for the group's self-released, self-titled 1994 album.
He was described in a 1995 Inquirer report as "a tough, inventive guitarist" with "estimable Neil Young/Bob Dylan-influenced songwriting skills." The band broke up a few years later.
"Bruce was an excellent guitarist," said Ted Warren, former lead singer for Go to Blazes, for which Mr. Langfeld wrote songs and played guitar in Philadelphia and New York in the 1990s. "But what really grabbed me about Bruce's songs were the lyrics. His writing had mystical references, stream of consciousness, and was poignantly autobiographical. It was dark stuff."
Mr. Langfeld was known for his sarcastic, self-deprecating sense of humor, Warren said.
"Bruce was very sociable and funny. But he struggled with his demons and unfulfilled dreams," Warren said. "He was not as happy as he showed on the exterior."
Mr. Langfeld lived alone, and it was not unusual for him to be incommunicado for a few days, Warren said. Mr. Langfeld played with other bands, including Trouble Dolls, King Rat and Marah. He also sang with songwriter Cheri Knight, a blues-influenced roots rocker.
Two of Go to Blazes' recorded songs written by Mr. Langfeld were often requested by audiences. "Stone Mountain," a commentary about the post-Civil War South, spoke of "cotton fields and old plantations, and now they sell used cars."
In "All Wrapped Up," Mr. Langfeld wrote the powerful refrain: "Almost had a feeling of dreams that won't come true all wrapped up in my shaking fist, but what can I do?"
Described by his sister as a "nonconformist," Mr. Langfeld dropped out of Chestnut Hill Academy after the 10th grade. He earned a general equivalency diploma while playing music and writing songs for himself and various bands. Years later, he continued his education, earning a bachelor's degree in history in 1991 and a master's in English in 1994, both from Temple University.
Mr. Langfeld taught creative writing at Camden Community College and Peirce College in the 1990s. He also taught literature in religion in the intellectual heritage program at Temple from 1993 until 2006 as an adjunct professor.
In addition to his sister, Mr. Langfeld is survived by a niece; two uncles; and several cousins.
A date for a memorial service is pending.