John Hartman, who was the original drummer for the Doobie Brothers and a co-founder of the California rock band, passed away recently. He was 72.
The news of Hartman’s passing was shared on the band’s official Instagram and Twitter pages on Thursday. In the tweets, the band members paid tribute to him as “a wild spirit, great drummer, and showman” and extended their sympathies to his family. Hartman passed away on Thursday.
“Today we are thinking of John Hartman or Little John to us. John was a wild spirit, great drummer, and showman during his time in the Doobies,” the band stated on their social media posts. “He was also a close friend for many years and an intricate part of the band’s personality! We send our condolences to all his loved ones at this difficult time.”
The band concluded by saying, “Rest in Peace John.” The Doobie Brothers have not disclosed when John Hartman passed away or the circumstances surrounding his passing.
According to the official website for the band, Hartman created the original Doobie Brothers with guitarists and singers Patrick Simmons and Tom Johnston in the early 1970s. Hartman met the duo when they were performing in bars in the Bay Area in Northern California.
“It all began in 1969, when a drummer named John Hartman arrived in Northern California. He was there to meet Skip Spence from the band Moby Grape and become part of a supposed band reunion that never quite got off the ground,” an extract from the band’s biography that can be found on their website. “But it wasn’t all for naught. Spence (who had also played in the Jefferson Airplane) introduced Hartman to his friend Tom Johnston, a local singer/songwriter/guitarist -and they connected. Hartman and Johnston began playing local Bay Area bars.”
“They soon met singer/guitarist Pat Simmons, whose finger-style playing richly complimented Johnston’s R&B strumming-style, and the foundation for The Doobie Brothers was set,” the biography adds.
When the Doobie Brothers released their first eight albums, Hartman was the drummer for all of them. He played on several of the band’s most famous songs, such as “Listen to the Music,” “Long Train Runnin’,” and “What a Fool Believes,” which were all released between 1972 and 1978. During Hartman’s tenure with the band, two of the band’s songs reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Hartman left the band in 1979 but returned for the band’s 1989 reunion album Cycles. He later rejoined the Doobie Brothers until his retirement in 1992.
Hartman, along with eight other Doobie Brothers members, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020.