Harvey Mandel is a stylish guitar player who mixes up Blues, rock and jazz techniques into a heady brew, and whose skills have seen him play with Canned Heat, John Mayall and The Rolling Stones. Including his solo career and work as a session musician, Harvey has been constantly busy with his guitar for 50 years and his trademark trick of using both hands to tap the fretboard has been taken up by a generation of rock guitarists.
Harvey was born in Detroit in 1945, and after sitting in with some Chicago legends as a youth and picking up the name ‘The Snake’ for his sinuous guitar runs, he got his big break playing on harp star Charlie Musselwhite‘s breakthrough album, ‘Stand Back!’ Phillips Records signed Harvey and released three solo albums of his exquisite instrumental music, which got a lot of FM radio play, but when Harvey joined Canned Heat in 1969 he was suddenly playing lead guitar in a very high profile band. His third gig was the Woodstock Festival, and the band set out on a massive tour of Europe where they recorded a live album, and their studio album ‘Future Blues’ was released in August 1970. Canned Heat suffered a body blow the following month with the death of Al ‘Blind Owl’ Wilson, and Harvey and his band-mate Larry Taylor went to Laurel Canyon to join the newly-arrived John Mayall.
He played on two Mayall albums ‘USA Union’ and ‘Back to the Roots’, where he rubbed shoulders with violinist Don ‘Sugarcane’ Harris. Harvey and Don left Mayall’s band in 1972, to form The Pure Food and Drug Act, which recorded the ‘Choice Cuts’ album. Don and steel-guitarist Freddie Roulette also appeared on Harvey’s solo album ‘The Snake’, which was a follow up to Harvey’s 1970 release, ‘Baby Batter’. When The Rolling Stones were looking to replace Mick Taylor in December 1974, Harvey auditioned for them, and two tracks he played on were released on the Stones 1976 album ‘Black and Blue’, so he was briefly a ‘Stone’!