Dobie Brothers original drummer John Hartman dies at 72

John Hartman, the original drummer of the Dobie Brothers and co-founder of the band, has died at the age of 72.

Describing them as “wild souls” and “close friends” in a social media statement on Thursday, the band declined to reveal the date of the cause of death.

‘Today we are thinking of ourselves as John Hartman or Little John. John was a wild soul, great drummer and showman during his time at Dubies,’ the band wrote.

The Way He Was: John Hartman, the original drummer of the Dobie Brothers and co-founder of the band, has died at the age of 72;  painted in 1978

The Way He Was: John Hartman, the original drummer of the Dobie Brothers and co-founder of the band, has died at the age of 72; painted in 1978

‘He was also a close friend for many years and a complex part of the band personality!’ The statement continued. ‘We send our condolences to all his loved ones at this difficult time. Rest in Peace John.’

Born in Falls Church, Virginia, in 1950, Hartman became a musician and moved to Northern California in the early 1970s.

While in San Jose, she was introduced to Tom Johnston, who became the frontman of the Dobie Brothers and remains so today.

The band slowly formed and began moving around the San Jose area, naming themselves after one of the era’s slang terms for marijuana cigarettes.

Throwback: The 1976 lineup of The Doobie Brothers, pictured (clockwise from bottom left) Skunk Baxter, Hartman, Patrick Simmons, Keith Knudsen, Tiran Porter and Michael McDonald

Throwback: The 1976 lineup of The Doobie Brothers, pictured (clockwise from bottom left) Skunk Baxter, Hartman, Patrick Simmons, Keith Knudsen, Tiran Porter and Michael McDonald

By 1971 they had released their self-titled debut album, but stardom continued to oust them as neither the LP nor its lead single managed to hit the charts.

They continued to perform and eventually added Michael Hosack, who was in the US Navy during the Vietnam War, as the second drummer with Hartman.

Together with two drummers, he released his second album Toulouse Street in 1972 – and became an international sensation.

The band’s successes grew as the 1970s progressed, with Hartman playing drums on most of their hits.

Original Run: Hartman, pictured at a 1974 concert in London, was a founding member of the band in 1970 and played in their hits throughout that decade

Original Run: Hartman, pictured at a 1974 concert in London, was a founding member of the band in 1970 and played in their hits throughout that decade

In 1978 he released his most famous album, Minute by Minute, which included the Grammy-winning single What a Fool Believes – which did not feature Hartman.

However the band was shaken by internal tensions, including increasing health problems that frontman Tom Johnston was facing on the road.

In the mid-1970s Johnson was so physically exhausted from touring that he had to be hospitalized with a bleeding stomach ulcer – lead singer Michael McDonald was taken to the hospital to replace him.

McDonald remained part of the Dobie Brothers when Johnston returned, and it was McDonald who co-wrote and sang What a Fool Believes.

On Drums: Although he left the band in 1979, he returned almost a decade later for their reunion album Cycle and was featured in 1989 performing with them in Minnesota.

On Drums: Although he left the band in 1979, he returned almost a decade later for their reunion album Cycle and was featured in 1989 performing with them in Minnesota.

Despite the resounding 1978 success of the Dobie Brothers, Hartman had enough of the band and its inner dynamism, and in 1979 he made his departure.

‘Everything was falling apart,’ said Hartmann Rolling stone few years ago. ‘I remember sitting in California at a rehearsal and listening to Michael say he didn’t want to get out of his car because of some anxiety.’

After leaving the band, Hartman began a drastic career change and tried to become a cop, even graduating from a reserve police academy.

His past stood in his way though – being famous for a band named after drugs, he was overruled by 20 police departments across Northern California.

Process: Hartman continued recording and touring with the band, including this 1989 concert in Bloomington, Minnesota, but retired again in 1992.

Process: Hartman continued recording and touring with the band, including this 1989 concert in Bloomington, Minnesota, but retired again in 1992.

he confessed new York Times It was in the 1990s that his history with marijuana became a ‘major liability’ for his police career.

‘These people still think I have a credibility problem because of what I used to do,’ he insisted, ‘I’ve just got myself out of the sewer.’

His dream of being a cop died on the vine in the late 1980s, finding himself drifting back into the career that had made him a star.

As seen in 1976: the band was shaken by internal tensions in the 1970s, and frontman Tom Johnson was temporarily replaced by Michael McDonald (3rd from left).

As seen in 1976: the band was shaken by internal tensions in the 1970s, and frontman Tom Johnson was temporarily replaced by Michael McDonald (3rd from left).

He rode a Doobie Brothers benefit for Vietnam veterans in 1987 and joined them full-time in 1989 for their reunion album Cycle.

Hartmann continued recording and touring with the band, including international shows to distant destinations in the crumbling Soviet Union.

Now middle-aged, he took a softer approach to the itinerant lifestyle, he said. The Associated Press: ‘The road treats us the same way, we don’t treat it the same way.’

Description: The Dobie Brothers enjoyed the height of their fame in the 1970s and were featured in 1975 when they were given a gold record by Warner Bros. president Mo Oustin.

Description: The Dobie Brothers enjoyed the height of their fame in the 1970s and were featured in 1975 when they were given a gold record by Warner Bros. president Mo Oustin.

‘We’re no longer trashing hotel rooms,’ Johnson specified: ‘and we’re not doing door wars with rental cars, burning conditions and things of that nature.’

Hartman played drums on the band’s 1991 album Brotherhood, but left again the following year, beginning a permanent retirement from the Dobie Brothers.

Two years ago, he and his former bandmates were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame together but were denied the opportunity for a physical reunion as the ceremony was virtual amid the coronavirus lockdown.

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