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.
A pioneer of modern electric blues from Chicago, Harvey Mandel developed and mastered sustained and controlled feedback, displaying both extroversion and musical virtuosity. He has performed with many blues legends including Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Albert King, and Buddy Guy.
Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1945 and raised in Chicago, Harvey had a brief stint playing bongos before switching to guitar. He used little Fender amps at first, using different tricks, and eventually used an all-tube, low quality Bogan PA amplifier. It had the greatest natural sustain, according to Mandel. Mandel became the original guitarist with Charlie Musselwhite, releasing the debut album Stand Back! in 1966. Effortless sustain, multi–string bends, a slightly distorted tone always bordering on feedback and herky-jerky stuttering phrases balanced with long, melodic line—radical ideas the blues world had never seen tied into such a neat, well-executed package. And what made Harvey's unique vision all the more remarkable was that he not only progressed at a faster rate than his peers but accelerated past the guitar technology available at the time. "I never tried to copy," Harvey explains. "I learned from the blues players I was jamming with, as far as the technique and the notes, but I always had my own sound in my head. I mean, I heard the guitar the way you hear it today, and even the sound when Hendrix first came out, long before I could ever even dream of playing that stuff. I knew where guitar was going 20 years before it got there. I knew that eventually guitar technique would equal horn players and keyboard players: it was just a matter of training." As a result of heavy airplay in San Francisco, they were invited to play the Fillmore by the late great Bill Graham.