Bob Harvey

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Bob Harvey is usually known, if at all, for a brief stint in a band with whom he never recorded. That band, however, was a big one: the Jefferson Airplane. Harvey was their original bassist, playing a…
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Bob Harvey is usually known, if at all, for a brief stint in a band with whom he never recorded. That band, however, was a big one: the Jefferson Airplane. Harvey was their original bassist, playing a standup acoustic bass for a few months in their first lineup in 1965. He has actually played and recorded with a few other groups, though it's as a Jefferson Airplane trivia question that his name pops up.

Harvey first recorded as a banjo player with country singer Les Overstreet. In 1963, living in the San Francisco Bay Area, he co-founded the bluegrass group the Slippery Rock String Band, in which he played standup bass. It was as a folk musician that he met Marty Balin, then part of another folk group, the Town Criers. When he heard Balin was forming a folk-rock group in early 1965, he successfully auditioned for the bass position. Already in his early thirties, he was considerably older than the rest of the band; perhaps more problematically, his acoustic bass didn't fit in with the electric presence of a rock group. He did buy an electric bass around the beginning of autumn 1965, but shortly afterward he was replaced by Jack Casady, right before the Jefferson Airplane began recording for RCA.

Harvey went back to the Slippery Rock String Band and sang lead on their only record. In the late '60s, he was in the Holy Mackerel, a band which also featured singer/songwriter Paul Williams. But Harvey left before their obscure album was finished, although one of his songs, "Wildflowers," was included. He then went into acting, journalism, and civil service. In 2001, a band Harvey had formed in the late '90s with Brian Fowler, San Francisco Blue, put out the CD Idiot's Vision, pressed in a limited quantity of a thousand copies and issued by Cranium Music in New Zealand.