John Hartman, 72, was killed by the Doobie Brothers. They posted a post on social media saying, “Today, we are thinking about John Hartman, (or Little John to usJohn) was a wild spirit and great drummer during his time with the Doobies.” There was no immediate cause of death.
Hartman was a co-founder of Doobie Brothers and was among nine Doobie Brothers members inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 2020. Hartman had since left the band, which he was a part of often reuniting.
Hartman was part of the Doobies’ initial run of chart-topping songs, including “Listen to the Music,” and “Long Train Runnin'”, as well as signature songs such “What a Fool Believes” and “Listen to the Music.” Hartman was also one of the two drummers the Doobies had from 1971 to 1979. Hartman returned to the band in 1989 for a reunion album and continued with the group through 1992. Hartman is not currently participating in the 50th anniversary tour. The current tour will feature four legacy members: Tom Johnston (Michael McDonald), Pat Simmons (Pat Simmons) and John McFee (John McFee).
Hartman, who had just left the Doobie Brothers, looked beyond music and into law enforcement to pursue a new career. According to the New York Times, Hartman was looking for a full-time job as a police officer. However, Hartman admitted to using drugs during his time with the Doobies. Hartman, who had been a police officer for three years after graduating from an academy, said that 20 northern California police departments had turned him down for a job. Hartman’s discrimination suit against the Petaluma Police Department for discrimination was dismissed.
Hartman stated that his drug abuse had escalated in the 1970s. However, Hartman was confronted by members of the band who had their own substance abuse problems. Hartman quit using drugs in 1975. Hartman said that he had “recovered himself from the sewer” after a few years of being in the band. He also described himself as the leader and “owner of “the white Buddy Miles.” Crowe said Hartman, who could be mistaken for one the Hell’s Angels that used come to their early gigs, was “fascinated by his own menacing physique.” It is also a benefit to him. Let’s say it this way: . . Hartman joked that he tried to intimidate the teenager rock journalist during an interview.
Hartman was thrilled to have escaped the club scene’s suddenly overwhelming AM-FM hits. Crowe asked Hartman in 1973, “Am I anxious for me to get back to play bars and clubs again?” Let me tell you this: . . If you could drive a Volkswagen, but you wanted to drive a Cadillac, would it be a good idea to return to your VW? Who in their right mind would ever want to return to a bar? Jesus . . . Idiots and drunks, poor pay, no pay . .”
Hartman, who had moved from the east coast to central California in 1969, was roommate with guitarist Tom Johnston at San Jose State. When they met Patrick Simmons, singer-guitarist, the core group formed, around 1970. Their first name was Pud and they were granted a residency at the Chateau Liberte. This bar, which was once a stagecoach stop in Santa Cruz mountains, had a biker clientele. Hartman said that it was one of those places you drink and then go outside to throw up. It was beautiful, man!
Hartman joked that their debut album didn’t do well after they were signed to Warner Bros. despite Hartman not being the frontman of the band. In 1972, the Doobies were a success with their second album “Toulouse Street,” which featured the hit single “Listen to the Music”.
In 1976, the band switched directions with “Takin’ It to the Streets”, as Johnston was largely replaced by McDonald’s. Hartman, who was feuding with different members of the band, quit in 1979 along with Jeff “Skunk”, Baxter. Hartman said that “Everything was falling apart” and that he was leaving the band in 1982. Hartman and other original members then reunited for a 1989 reunion, but without McDonald’s.
The original members were supposed to reunite at the Rock Hall Induction ceremony in 2020. However, the ceremony was cancelled and relegated to a video presentation because of the pandemic.
Hartman, who was out of the music industry for nearly three decades, was interviewed at the time they were about to be inducted by Rolling Stone. He laughed at the “yachtrock” tag which he hadn’t heard before. He said, “Oh my god, that’s amazing!” “I’ll be laughing for three weeks!”
The documentary “Let the Music Play” was released in 2021. However, reviewers pointed out that Hartman was the only living major figure not interviewed for the film.
The San Jose Historic Landmarks Commission unanimously recommended landmark status in 2021 for Johnston and Hartman’s craftsman house, which they shared back when the group came together in the early 1970s.