John Hartman Dies at 72, Doobie Brothers’ Lost Their Founding Member

John Hartman, a founding member of the Doobie Brothers, has died at age 72, the band announced on social media Thursday. The cause of death was not immediately available. “John was a wild spirit, great drummer and showman,” the band said in a statement.

He was also a close friend for many years and an intricate part of the band personality.” Known for hits such as “Listen to the Music,” China Grove” and “Long Train Running’,” the Doobie Brothers formed in 1970 in San Jose, Calif.

Besides being a founding member of one of rock’s most enduring bands, Hartman was also known for his work outside the Doobies.

He played drums on records by Dan Fogelberg, Bonnie Raitt, Steely Dan and Bob Dylan, among others. He also toured with Dylan as part of his Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975 and ’76.

In recent years, Hartman had suffer from health issues, forcing him to miss some performances.

He is survived by his wife, Michele; sons Alexander and Zachary; daughter-in-law Emily; and grandchildren Sawyer and Ellis. A celebration of life will be announced at a later date.

John Hartman Life & Career

John Hartman had a storied life even before he became a Doobie Brother. Hartman, a native of Falls Church, Virginia, initially left the band in 1979, nine years after forming the outfit in San Jose, California, with Johnston and soon afterwards, Simmons.

His departure followed some of their greatest success with now-classic rock anthems including “Black Water” and “What a Fool Believes.” He returned for a stint in 1987 before officially retiring in 1992.

In 2020, Hartman joined his fellow Doobies for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

While the majority of the band’s songs were written by Johnston and Simmons, Hartman offered songwriting contributions to their solid discography over the years, including 1974’s “Road Angel” (from the “What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits” album) and 1976’s “Wheel of Fortune” (from “Takin’ it to the Streets,” which reached No. 3 on Billboard’s album chart).

As a drummer, singer, and songwriter, Hartman was an integral part of one of the most successful rock bands of all time.

Hartman’s life has died early as per his fans & we will always miss him. But his legacy as a musician will continue to live on for decades to come. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction is certainly a well-deserved honour for John Hartman—and for the Doobie Brothers as a whole.