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Roy Harvey
Born:  March 24, 1892
Died:  July 11, 1958

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.

Roy Harvey, North Carolina Ramblers 1927 Roy Harvey, North Carolina Ramblers 1928

Credits & Sources

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Brunswick
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  223 A There'll Come A Time (w/North Carolina Ramblers)
  223 B There's A Mother Old And Gray Who Needs Me (w/North Carolina Ramblers)
  234 A As We Parted At The Gate (w/North Carolina Ramblers)
  234 B I'll Be There Mary Dear (w/North Carolina Ramblers)
  250 A Bluefield Murders (w/North Carolina Ramblers)
  250 B George Collins (w/North Carolina Ramblers)
  268 A Budded Roses (w/North Carolina Ramblers)
  268 B What Is Home Without Love (w/North Carolina Ramblers)
 
Columbia
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  15155 D A When The Bees Are In The Hive (w/Posey Rorer)
  15155 D B Daisies Won't Tell (w/Posey Rorer)
  15174 D A The Brave Engineer (acc/North Carolina Ramblers)
  15174 D B Wreck Of The Virginian Train No.3 (acc/North Carolina Ramblers)
  15514 D A Just Pickin' (w/Leonard Copeland)
  15514 D B Beckley Rag (w/Leonard Copeland)
  15582 D A Lonesome Weary Blues (w/Leonard Copeland)
  15582 D B Underneath The Sugar Moon (w/Leonard Copeland)
  15609 D A The Lilly Reunion
  15609 D B Just Goodbye, I Am Going Home
  15637 D A Greasy Wagon (w/Leonard Copeland)
  15637 D B Mother's Waltz (w/Leonard Copeland)
  15714 D A Dark Eyes (w/Posey Rorer)
  15714 D B Willie Poor Boy (w/Posey Rorer)
 
Gennett
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  6288 A Write A Letter To My Mother (acc/North Carolina Ramblers)
  6288 B Poor Little Joe (acc/North Carolina Ramblers)
 
Montgomery Ward
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  4947 A Where The Whipporwill Is Whispering Goodnight
  4947 B When The Bees Are In The Hive
 
Vocalion
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  05243 B Sweet Refrain (w/North Carolina Ramblers)
  05243 B Take Me Back To Home And Mother (w/North Carolina Ramblers)


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