John Hartman, a musician who helped start the band the Doobie Brothers and was the group’s first drummer, died at 72. The band posted on their official social media pages that Hartman had died, calling him a “wild spirit, great spirit and showman.”
“John Hartman, who we called “Little John,” is on our minds today,” the band said. “When John was in the Doobies, he was a wild spirit, a great drummer and a showman.
“He was also a close friend for a long time and an important part of the band’s character!” From the early 1970s to the early 1990s, the Virginia native played with the rock band twice.
Hartman started the band in 1969 in Northern California, where he met lead singer Tom Johnston and then finger-picking guitarist Pat Simmons. Their 1971 self-titled album didn’t do well on the charts, but their second studio album, “Toulouse Street,” with songs like “Listen to the Music” and “Jesus is Just Alright,” became an instant fan favorite. In 1972, the album got as high as No. 21 on the Billboard 200 charts.
According to Rolling Stone, Hartman left the band in 1979 before releasing their ninth album, “One Step Closer.” This was after a rough tour of Japan. Hartman said, “Everything was going wrong.”
Ten years later, in 1989, Hartman came back for the albums “Cycles” and “Brotherhood.” He left the band again in 1992, but this time for good.
The band has always had two drummers. The current touring version of The Doobie Brothers has one drummer (Ed Toth) and a percussionist (Marc Quiones) to help him out.