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Harvey Mandel performing in 1977

Harvey Mandel (born March 11, 1945),[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 but grew up in Morton Grove, Illinois a suburb of Chicago and his first recording was the album Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite's Southside Band in 1966 with Charlie Musselwhite. Described in 1997's Legends of Rock Guitar 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 a club called The Matrix, where local favorites like Jerry Garcia or Elvin Bishop would sit in and jam. He then met up with Abe 'Voco' Kesh, who produced his first solo album, Cristo Redentor in 1968. He recorded with Barry Goldberg on a bootleg from Cherry Records and recorded with Graham Bond.

On the night that Henry Vestine quit Canned Heat, Mandel was in their dressing room at the Fillmore West. Mike Bloomfield joined them for the first set, and Mandel came in for the second set. His third gig with the band was the Woodstock Festival in 1969. During this same 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 which became an international hit. He is also on the Live in Europe album prior to Alan Wilson's death.

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

When The Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor (also a former Mayall sideman) left the band, Harvey Mandel was auditioned for a replacement and recorded two tracks 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 has also released an instructional video titled Harvey Mandel: Blues Guitar & Beyond.

Mandel's nickname, "The Snake," was given to him by keyboardist Barry Goldberg and referred to his cracked leather jacket. Mandel acted in the film Chalk, directed by Rob Nilsson, and contributed some original music. Mandel has two daughters, Camille and Lola who currently live in France. In 2007 Harvey Mandel and Larry Taylor reunited with Fito de la Parra and the rest of the current Canned Heat line-up to perform certain shows on the Canned Heat tour. Taylor, Mandel and Fito were all part of the classic Woodstock 1969 line-up including the Woodstock Boogie now available on DVD.


  • 1968 Cristo Redentor, Philips Records
  • 1969 Righteous, Philips
  • 1970 Games Guitars Play, Philips
  • 1971 Baby Batter, Stinger Records
  • 1971 Electronic Progress, Bellaphon Records
  • 1972 Get Off in Chicago, Ovation Records
  • 1972 The Snake, BGO Records
  • 1973 Shangrenade, Janus Records
  • 1974 Feel the Sound of Harvey Mandel, Repertoire Records
  • 1994 Twist City, Western Front
  • 1995 Snakes & Stripes, Clarity
  • 1997 Planetary Warrior, Lightyear
  • 2000 Emerald Triangle, Orchard
  • 2000 Lick This, Electric Snake
  • 2003 West Coast Killaz, Electric Snake


  1. ^ Allmusic biography
  2. ^ Another is Randy Resnick, whom Mandel succeeded as lead guitarist in Pure Food and Drug Act.
  3. ^ Prown, Pete; Harvey P. Newquist, Jon F. Eiche (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 42. ISBN 0793540429.!+Here+Comes+Charlie+Musselwhite%27s+Southside+Band&client=firefox-a. "His guitar work on the legendary Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite's South Side Band (1996) rivaled the playing of both Mike Bloomfield and Eric Clapton and brought blues and rock'n'roll another step closer to one another with his relentless fuzztone, feedback-edged solos, and unusual syncopated phrasing."  
  • Fito De La Parra, Living The Blues (2000), ISBN 0-9676449-0-9

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