Doobie Brothers' drummer John Hartman dead at 72.

And just like Spinal Tap, this is the band’s third drummer to die (though not by exploding -).

John was the Doobies original drummer, and the only one on their debut album. The band added a second drummer for the followup, and were never without two drummers from that point on. What was the reason for adding a second drummer? I’m from the band’s hometown (San Jose), and I never heard through the grapevine the band was dissatisfied with John’s drumming. Double drummers became a thing in the 70’s, perhaps the band just liked the way it sounded.

One member the band WAS dissatisfied with was original bassist Dave Shogren, who was shown the door after the debut album stiffed. He soon thereafter formed a band with a drummer friend of mine, and they came up with the name SF Star (yet ANOTHER crappy band name ;-). That band didn’t take off, and Shogren was never heard from again. He was seen, however. One afternoon in the summer of ’75 I was driving through a middle class residential neighborhood in Campbell (a suburb of San Jose), and saw a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud sitting in the driveway of a 3-bedroom tract house. That was unusual, so I slowed down to get a better look. Out of the house walked Shogren, who proceeded to get into the Rolls. I guess he took his signing bonus and used it to buy the Rolls and put a down payment on a house. I say that because I doubt the band made any money off the debut album.

Seeing Shogren reminded me of a particular day in the summer of ’71, the year the Doobies’ debut album was recorded and released. They had been the house band at a biker bar on Summit Road in the Santa Cruz Mountains (the same mountains Neil Young later holed up in, playing in a band named The Ducks with drummer Johnny Craviotto---later renown for his drums---and Bob Mosley of Moby Grape), and gave notice to the owner when they signed their Warner Brothers contract. The owner was holding auditions for a replacement band, and the band I was playing in at that time arranged to do one.

We ended up not getting the gig, but an interesting thing happened in the middle of our audition set: A skinny guy with real long hair came up to our singer/guitarist/organist and exchanged pleasantries (it was obvious they knew each other). As the guy was walking away I asked the bassist who he was (he had that Rock Star look), and heard for the first time the name Patrick Simmons. I hadn’t yet heard of The Doobie Brothers, but they ended up becoming the biggest band to ever come out of San Jose.

Rest In Peace John.


Always loved their "Listen To The Music" and still listen to it occasionally!

I saw the Doobie Brothers on their Taking It To The Streets tour. I knew Michael Mc Donald from his work with Steely Dan as well as Jeff Baxter on guitar. I probably wouldn’t have gone but I had just won around $400.00 in a poker game so I bought myself and a friend a ticket. It was in a hockey arena so the sound was just all-right. Surprisingly to me and my friend, the show was way better than what we were expecting. They were very well rehearsed and they came off as having a certain magic that wasn’t really conveyed through their recordings. I’m pretty certain that this was the height of their popularity but it was super easy to get tickets unlike Zeppelin or Skynard. Overall, a good show and a fun time. RIP John, I’m glad you had a good life.