John Hartman, Drummer and Co-Founder of the Doobie Brothers, Dies at 72

The 1970s rock group was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020

Doobie Brothers John Hartman
The Doobie Brothers: (Clockwise from bottom left) Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, John Hartman, Patrick Simmons, Keith Knudsen, Tiran Porter and Michael McDonald (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

John Hartman, the drummer and one of the founding members of the Doobie Brothers, has died, the band announced. He was 72.

The circumstances of his death were not revealed.

“Today we are thinking of John Hartman, or Little John to us,” the band posted on their Instagram and Twitter accounts Sept. 22. “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! We send our condolences to all his loved ones at this difficult time. Rest In Peace John.”

Hartman was responsible for the rock and roll group’s formation and played drums on all their biggest hits, including “Long Train Runnin,’” “China Grove,” “Listen to the Music,” “Jesus Is Just Alright” and “Blackwater.”

According to the band’s official website, Hartman arrived in Northern California in 1969 and eventually linked up with singer-songwriter-guitarist Tom Johnston and singer-guitarist Pat Simmons. Later additions included bassist Dave Shogren, singer-keyboardist Michael McDonald, and a second drummer, Michael Hossack.

Following the release of their 1971 self-titled debut album, the Doobie Brothers scored their first major success with their second album, “Toulouse Street.” During Hartman’s initial run with the group, which lasted until 1979, they put out many of their formative hits. After the band went on hiatus in the early eighties, he rejoined from 1987 to 1992 for a series of charity gigs.

In total, the Doobie Brothers have made 15 studio albums, six live albums and won four Grammy awards, selling more than 48 million records over five-plus decades. The surviving original members, Hartman included, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020. The band is currently in the midst of a 50th Anniversary national tour.