Harvey “The Snake” Mandel interview

Uncategorized January 3, 2012

Harvey “The Snake” Mandel interview

Legendary guitar virtuoso Harvey Mandel, aka “The Snake,” truly one of the most distinctive and innovative musicians, continues to perform throughout the world, captivating audiences with his inventive style of electric guitar playing.

Where did you grow up and what were some of your influences?

Harvey Mandel: I grew up in Chicago. The Ventures were my first big influence and I moved on to the Blues…

Were you in any bands as a teenager?

I started playing when I turned 16. I was in my first band after playing for only 3 months. Started out playing rhythm and after a while doing leads and stuff…

How did you meet Charlie Musselwhite and what do you remember from recording ‘Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s South Side Band?’

I met Charlie Musselwhite through Barry Goldberg. Did a Barry record and soon after we did ‘Stand Back!’. I knew even back then it was something special…

Then you moved to the west coast and met Abe Keshishian, who signed you to Philips Records and produced your first solo album, ‘Cristo Redentor’ in 1968. Would you like to share a story about moving to the Bay Area and recording your first solo album?

The ‘Stand Back!’ album became a hit in San Francisco. Bill Graham asked us to play the Fillmore… Not long after that Abe Kesh got me signed to Philips.

‘2 Jews Blues’ by Barry Goldberg is another fantastic album you played on. Mike Bloomfield and Duane Allman also contributed.

I barely remember that one but if I hear it once in a while I still like it a lot…

‘Righteous’ and ‘Games Guitars Play’ are two more solo albums you released in the late 1960s. Then you joined Canned Heat. I would love to hear how you joined them after Henry Vestine quit the band….

Larry Taylor and Henry Vestine got into it at a Fillmore gig and Henry got fired… I just happened to be at the Fillmore that night and the Bear asked me to sit in… It worked out so well that I left with them that night and two days later we were playin Woodstock…


Well we flew in by helicopter and the site of all those people was mind blowing. An experience never to be forgotten…

Canned Heat’s bassist Larry Taylor and you joined John Mayall‘s band for the next two years. How do you remember those two years with Mayall?

It was something else. John is a real wild man. It was great fun…

Then you formed Pure Food & Drug Act and released ‘Choice Cuts.’

Playing with Don “Sugarcane” Harris was a real treat… He was the best…

What about solo releases such as ‘Baby Batter,’ ‘The Snake’ and ‘Shangrenade?’

All those records were great representations of myself back then. It’s fun to go back and hear where I was coming from back then…

You have been working with Bob Dylan too. What are some future plans?

More tours with Canned Heat… More Harvey gigs when possible… More recordings when time permits…

Thank you for your time.

Thanks Klemen. Give a shout to my fans… Thanks for your support. Thanks Psychedelic Baby.

Klemen Breznikar

Harvey Mandel Official Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

One Comment
  1. Anonymous says:

    Even though Harvey & I are around the same age and came up at the same time…although in very different ways…I was totally blown away the first time I heard his album, which I bought and wore out. I don’t know if he influenced my own guitar-playing or not because I have always tried to resist external influences on my music but I sure-as-hell thought he was a genuine master who has NEVER overplayed. He lives up to my ideal of playing less notes but expressing more feeling. The younger “shredders” could learn something about taste and class from Harvey Mandel!

    Long may you wave, Harvey!

    Ian Bruce-Douglas,
    The Cat Farm

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