“A Wild Spirit,” says the Band

“A Wild Spirit,” says the Band



(Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

John Hartman, co-founder of the Doobie Brothers and the original drummer for the California rock band, has died. It was 72.

On Thursday, the band announced Hartman’s death with posts on their official Instagram and Twitter accounts, where they praised him as a “wild spirit, great drummer and showman” and offered condolences to his family.

“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 wrote in 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.”

“Rest In Peace John,” the band added. The Doobie Brothers have not confirmed when Hartman died or the cause of his death.

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Hartman formed the original Doobie Brothers with guitarists and singers Patrick Simmons and Tom Johnston in the early 1970s after meeting the pair while playing Bay Area bars in Northern California, according to the band’s official website.

“It all started 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 be part of a supposed band reunion that never got off the ground,” an excerpt from reads the band’s bio on their website. “But it wasn’t all for naught. Spence (who had also played in Jefferson Airplane) introduced Hartman to his friend Tom Johnston, a local singer/songwriter/guitarist—and they connected. Hartman and Johnston began playing local bars of the Bay Area. .”

“They soon met singer/guitarist Pat Simmons, whose fingerstyle playing richly complimented Johnston’s R&B style, and the foundation for The Doobie Brothers was laid,” the biography adds.



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Hartman served as the Doobie Brothers’ drummer on each of the band’s first eight albums and played on such popular tracks as 1972’s “Listen To The Music,” 1973’s “Long Train Runnin'” and 1973’s “What a Fool Believes” 1978. The band also saw two songs hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 during Hartman’s tenure.

Although he was the band’s original drummer, Hartman was not the only member of the Doobie Brothers, as the band operated with two men behind the kit from 1971 onwards, according to Stereogum.

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Hartman left the band after 1979 and returned for the 1989 reunion album Circles. He then played again with the Doobie Brothers until he retired in 1992.

In 2020, Hartman was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Doobie Brothers, along with 8 other performers from the band’s decade-long career.

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