Harvey Mandel

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Harvey Mandel
Mandel performing in 1977
Background information
Also known as The Snake
Born (1945-03-11) March 11, 1945 (age 71)
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Origin Morton Grove, Illinois
United States
Genres Rock and roll, blues, blues rock
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1966–present
Labels Epic, Philips, Bellaphon, Janus, Repertoire, BGO, Ovation, Western Front, Clarity, Lightyear, Orchard, Electric Snake
Associated acts Pure Food and Drug Act, Canned Heat, Rolling Stones, John Mayall, Charlie Musselwhite
Website Official Harvey Mandel.com
Notable instruments
Gibson Les Paul

Harvey Mandel (born March 11, 1945, in Detroit, Michigan, United States)[1] is an American guitarist known for his innovative approach to electric guitar playing. A professional at twenty, he played with Charlie Musselwhite, Canned Heat, the Rolling Stones, and John Mayall before starting a solo career. Mandel is one of the first rock guitarists to use two-handed fretboard tapping.[2]


Mandel was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in Morton Grove, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.

His first record was the album Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite's Southside Band in 1966 with Charlie Musselwhite. Described in Legends of Rock Guitar (1997) as a "legendary" album, it was influential in bridging the gap between blues and rock and roll, with Mandel's "relentless fuzztone, feedback-edged solos, and unusual syncopated phrasing."[3] He relocated to the San Francisco Bay area, performing often at The Matrix, a club where local favorites like Jerry Garcia or Elvin Bishop would sit in and jam. He then met the pioneering San Francisco disc jockey and producer Abe "Voco" Kesh (Abe Keshishian), who signed Mandel to Philips Records and produced his first solo album, Cristo Redentor, in 1968. Mandel recorded with Barry Goldberg on a bootleg from Cherry Records and recorded with Graham Bond. He cut two more solo LPs for Philips, Righteous (1969) and Games Guitars Play (1970), followed by three more solo albums for the independent record label Janus in the early 1970s, which included Baby Batter.

On the night that Henry Vestine quit Canned Heat, Mandel was in the band's dressing room at the Fillmore West. Mike Bloomfield joined them for the first set, and Mandel came in for the second set. His third performance with the band was the Woodstock Festival in 1969. During this period, with Canned Heat bandmates Larry Taylor and Fito de la Parra, Mandel contributed to the 'Music from Free Creek' super session project. Mandel stayed with Canned Heat for a year, touring and recording material which appeared on three albums. "Let's Work Together", a song by Wilbert Harrison which was included in the album Future Blues became an international hit. He is also on the Live in Europe album prior to the death of Alan Wilson.

With Canned Heat bassist Larry Taylor, Mandel joined John Mayall's band for the next two years. He is heard playing on the two albums from that period USA Union and Back to the Roots. In 1972, he teamed up with Don "Sugarcane" Harris, Randy Resnick on guitar, Victor Conte on bass, and Paul Lagos on drums to form the band Pure Food and Drug Act, which released one album, Choice Cuts.

When Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor left the band, Mandel was auditioned as his replacement. He recorded two tracks with the Stones for their 1976 album Black and Blue: "Hot Stuff" and "Memory Motel". During the 1970s Mandel released the albums Baby Batter, The Snake and Shangrenade, in the latter employing the technique of two-handed tapping. He also released an instructional video, Harvey Mandel: Blues Guitar & Beyond.

Mandel acted in the film Chalk, directed by Rob Nilsson.

In 2009, Mandel and Larry Taylor reunited with Fito de la Parra and the rest of the current Canned Heat lineup to perform certain shows on the Canned Heat tour. Taylor, Mandel and de la Parra had all been part of the 1969 Woodstock Festival lineup. Mandel rejoined Canned Heat permanently in 2010.

Harvey Mandel and the Snake Crew was released in 2006, and was produced by Mandel and Michael Borbridge. Notable guest performers included Elvin Bishop, Norton Buffalo, Marcy Levy, and Nick Gravenites, plus Freddie Roulette, Pete Sears, Peter Albin, Mic Gillette, Barry Goldberg and Howard Wales. Harvey Mandel and the Snake Crew (Live) followed in 2009.

In 2014, Mandel guest starred on Eli Cook's album Primitive Son.[4]

Solo discography[edit]

  • 1968 Cristo Redentor (LP, Philips Records PHS 600-281)
  • 1969 Righteous (LP, Philips PHS 600-306)
  • 1970 Games Guitars Play (LP, Philips PHS 600-325)
  • 1971 Baby Batter (LP, Janus Records JLS-3017), also released as Electronic Progress (Bellaphon Records, Germany)
  • 1972 Get Off in Chicago (LP, Ovation Records)
  • 1972 The Snake (LP, Janus JLS-3037), with Don "Sugarcane" Harris
  • 1973 Shangrenade (LP, Janus JLS-3047), with Don "Sugarcane" Harris
  • 1974 Feel the Sound of Harvey Mandel (LP, Janus JLS-3067)
  • 1975 The Best of Harvey Mandel (LP, Janus 7014)
  • 1994 Twist City (Western Front WFE 10022)
  • 1995 Snakes & Stripes (CD, Clarity Recordings CCD-1013)
  • 1995 Harvey Mandel: The Mercury Years (2-CD anthology, PolyGram, 314 528 275-2)
  • 1997 Planetary Warrior (CD, ESP/Lightyear/WEA, 54215-2)
  • 2000 Emerald Triangle (CD, Electric Snake Productions ESP-9701)
  • 2000 Lick This (Electric Snake)
  • 2003 West Coast Killaz (Electric Snake)
  • 2003 NightFire featuring Harvey Mandel/Freddie Roulette (Electric Snake)
  • 2006 Harvey Mandel and the Snake Crew (Electric Snake)
  • 2009 Harvey Mandel and the Snake Crew (Live) (Electric Snake)[1]
  • 2016 Snake Pit (CD Tompkins Square)


  1. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie (1945-03-11). "Harvey Mandel - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-11-27. 
  2. ^ Another is Randy Resnick, with whom Mandel played in the band Pure Food and Drug Act. The PFDA recorded the live album Choice Cuts at the Fresh Air Tavern in Seattle in 1972 for Epic Records.
  3. ^ Prown, Pete; Newquist, Harvey P.; Eiche, Jon F. (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. Hal Leonard. p. 42. ISBN 0-7935-4042-9. His guitar work on the legendary Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite's South Side Band (1966) rivaled the playing of both Mike Bloomfield and Eric Clapton and brought blues and rock and roll another step closer to one another with his relentless fuzz tone, feedback-edged solos, and unusual syncopated phrasing. 
  4. ^ "Primitive Son – Eli Cook | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-01-04. 


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