Musician Harvey Mitchell dies

by Jordan Green

Harvey Mitchell, a Greensboro blues drummer and beloved eccentric, was killed in a motor-scooter accident on Aug. 8. He was 54.

Mitchell was thrown over a guardrail and into the median of West Wendover Avenue after his scooter drifted from the left-hand lane late in the morning of Aug. 8, according to a police report. Casey Hazelman, a friend who serves as president for the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, said he didn’t know whether mechanical problems or pain medication Mitchell might have been taking for recent health difficulties may have played a role.

No other vehicles were reported as being involved in the accident.

“After such a long time of seeing Harvey on crutches and limping around – I can’t remember if that was accident-related or surgery; I don’t know – he had a new girlfriend and life was finally good for Harvey,” Hazelman said. “And this happened. It’s just one of those things that you hear and you stop in your place. And all you can say is, ‘Damn.'”

Mitchell had worked off and on at the Music Barn, a store on South Chapman Street, for about 20 years. Born in Burlington, the drummer started playing around the Triad in the late 1960s, said Dave Osborne, owner of the Music Barn. In the 1980s Mitchell played with a popular beach music group called Tornado.

Mitchell also played with the Alkaphonics, Roy Roberts and Scott Adair, Hazelman said. At the time of his death, he was starting to perform with the All Stars, a former band that was in the process of reforming. Hazelman said Bob Margolin, a Greensboro guitar player and former Muddy Waters sideman, e-mailed him following news of the accident to say that he judged Mitchell a fine drummer after working with him.

“Everyone who met him, you just loved him,” Hazelman said. “He was just a wonderful, fun guy and absolutely insane in the most healthy kind of way. He just refused to be normal because normal was boring. He was an off-the-wall guy, sharp as a tack, very quick witted, and one hell of a drummer.”