Doobie Brothers founding member, drummer John Hartman dead at 72

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Musician John Hartman, co-founder and original drummer for the Doobie Brothers, has died at 72 years old.

The band announced Hartman’s death Thursday on their official social media pages calling Hartman a “wild spirit, great spirit and showman.”

“Today we are thinking of John Hartman, or Little John to us,” the band said. “John was a wild spirit, great drummer and showman during his time in the Doobies.

“He was also a close friend for many years and an intricate part of the band personality!”

The Virginia native had two stints with the rock band from the early 1970s to the early 1990s.

Hartman formed the band after meeting frontman Tom Johnston and later finger-picking guitarist Pat Simmons in Northern California in 1969.

Their self-titled debut album in 1971 didn’t make a splash on the charts, but their second studio album, “Toulouse Street,” became an instant fan favorite because of songs like “Listen to the Music” and “Jesus is Just Alright.” The album peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard 200 charts in 1972.

In 1979, after eight studio albums, Hartman left the band before the release of their ninth album, “One Step Closer,” after a tense Japanese tour, according to Rolling Stone.

“Everything was falling apart,” said Hartman.

(L-R) Pat Simmons, John Hartman, Dave Shogren and Tom Johnston of the rock and roll band “The Doobie Brothers” pose for a portrait with a car in circa 1970.

John Hartman
Though Hartman left the band twice in 1979 and 1992, he rejoined his bandmates when they were inducted into 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Left to right: John Hartman, Tom Johnston, Dave Shogren and Pat Simmons of "The Doobie Brothers" in 1970.
Left to right: John Hartman, Tom Johnston, Dave Shogren and Pat Simmons of “The Doobie Brothers” in 1970.

Ten years later, in 1989, Hartman returned for the album “Cycles” and 1991’s “Brotherhood” before leaving the group again, this time for good, in 1992.

In 2020, Hartman and the other surviving members of the band, Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, Michael Hossack, Tom Johnston, Keith Knudsen, Michael McDonald, John McFee, Tiran Porter and Patrick Simmons were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


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