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About The Artist
Between 1926 and 1931 Roy Harvey appeared on nearly two hundred recordings, some under his own name, some as guitarist on Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers discs, and some as partner or support accompanist with West Virginia friends such as Leonard Copeland, Earl Shirkey, Jess Johnston, Ernest Branch, Si Coleman, or the Weaver Brothers.
Despite his musical achievements, Harvey was at heart a displaced railroad engineer who had lost his job during a strike in 1923 and after nineteen years went back to the railroad locomotive when a new opportunity arose.
Harvey was born in Monroe County, West Virginia, but the family moved to Mercer County when he was a child and where ample opportunities for railroad employment existed. By age 24, he had reached the pinnacle of prestige, engineers.
He also displayed skill as a guitarist. According to one story, he could tune the instrument at the age of six. After seven years, behind the throttle, a strike beginning in November 1923 caused him to make career changes. In 1926, North Carolina banjo picker Charlie Poole asked him to play guitar on the North Carolina Rambler Columbia Record sessions.
It opened up new opportunities for he soon found that he could also make records for other companies without Poole. Soon his work appeared on Brunswick, Gennett and other firms as well as Columbia in other combinations.
In between records he worked in a Beckley music store where he met other noted musicians such as guitarist Leonard Copeland, yodeler Earl Shirkey, and more. Some of Harvey's recordings which included former Poole fiddler Posey Rorer even used the North Carolina Rambler name. This kept him busy through 1931 when the deepening depression curtailed most recording activity.
Harvey worked for a time in newspaper circulation for Beckley and Charleston papers. With World War II in full swing and railroads busier than ever, he secured an engineer position on the Florida East Coast line. He retired from this job a few months before his death.
In recent years, his youngest daughter, Louise Harvey Yarbrough, proved to be a valuable source of information on her dad and his musical friends.
Credits & Sources