Dan Hartman

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Dan Hartman
Promotional photo for MCA Records, circa 1985
Promotional photo for MCA Records, circa 1985
Background information
Birth nameDaniel Earl Hartman
Born(1950-12-08)December 8, 1950
Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedMarch 22, 1994(1994-03-22) (aged 43)
Westport, Connecticut, U.S.[1]
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, guitarist, keyboardist, record producer
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, keyboards, bass guitar
Years active1963–1994
LabelsBlue Sky, Atlantic, MCA
Associated actsEdgar Winter Group, 3V, KC and the Sunshine Band
Websitedanhartman.com

Daniel Earl Hartman (December 8, 1950 – March 22, 1994) was an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer. Among songs he wrote and recorded were "Free Ride" with The Edgar Winter Group, and the solo hits "Relight My Fire", "Instant Replay", "I Can Dream About You", "We Are the Young" and "Second Nature". "I Can Dream About You", his most successful song, reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984[1] and No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart in 1985. The James Brown song "Living in America", which Hartman co-wrote and produced, was even more successful, reaching #4 on March 1, 1986.

Another successful song Hartman co-wrote was the disco hit "Love Sensation" recorded by Loleatta Holloway, which has been sampled countless times, most controversially by Black Box who was sued by Loleatta Holloway for failing to give her credit when they sampled her voice on "Ride on Time."

Early life[edit]

Hartman was born on December 8, 1950 to Carl Hartman (1921-2006) and Pauline Angeloff (1925-1999) near Pennsylvania's capital, Harrisburg, in West Hanover Township, Dauphin County. His father served as an aerial gunner during World War II before eventually working for the U.S. Postal Service.[2] His maternal side of the family originated from Macedonia and were likely of Russian or Bulgarian descent.[3][4] Hartman was a child prodigy and studied classical piano.[5] He attended John Harris High School, where he sang for the John Harris Choir and partook in journalism and theater as extracurricular activities.[6]

Career[edit]

The Legends and the Edgar Winter Band[edit]

Hartman joined his first band The Legends at the age of 13 in 1964[5] at the request of his older brother David (Dave) who asked him to play keyboards. Hartman was initially reluctant to join, as he gravitated towards Motown rather than The Beatles-esque sound that the band members favored. From its inception, The Legends played at various spots throughout Central Pennsylvania, including local churches, dances, rock shows and outdoor concerts. The Legends initially started out as a soul group, but transitioned from a psychedelic rock to hard rock band by the early 1970s.[7]

By the early 1970s, Dave had left The Legends and Hartman became the band leader with Larry Sadler on drums and Joe Caloiere on bass. Hartman’s role further expanded in that he wrote much of the band's music (as well as played electric piano, organ, and guitar), but despite the release of a number of recordings, none turned out to be widespread hits.[8] Their first record release was a recording of Cat Stevens’ “Baby Get Your Head Screwed on Right” on the Up label. They next released a two-sider with the Bridge Society label consisting of the songs “Keep On Running” (a song popularized by The Spencer Davis Group) and “Cheating” (originally recorded by The Animals). Their third release was the Hartman-penned songs “High Towers”/”Fever Games” on Railroad House Records.[9] The band also recorded “Sometimes I Can’t Help It” and “Jefferson Strongbox”.[7] While part of The Legends, Hartman worked as a banker for a time and wore a fake mustache in the promos so that his employers would not recognize him.[10]

Hartman with the Edgar Winter Group in 1975 (third from left)

Hartman began sending demo tapes of The Legends’ original material to gain national attention.[7] He enlisted the help of Ronnie G. Shaeffer, a major radio personality in Central Pennsylvania that not only listened to the works and provided honest criticism to Hartman but also offered record label connections.[11] In 1971, upon listening to the 13-song demo tape, Steve Paul, President of Blue Sky Records,[5] introduced Hartman to Edgar Winter—who had recently disbanded White Trash and was seeking new members for his next musical venture.[12][13] Hartman subsequently spent a period of time backing the Johnny Winter Band (Edgar Winter was Johnny Winter's younger brother) and left The Legends to join Edgar Winter’s lineup. The Legends continued to record with Larry Swartzwelder on guitar and later Dean Lescallette and Gene Brenner on rhythm guitar. They released “Rock n Roll Woman” (written by Hartman) and “Problems” (written by Caloiere) on Hartman’s Heart label. The Legends disbanded by the mid-1970s.[7]

By 1972, Hartman joined the Edgar Winter Group, where he played bass, wrote or co-wrote many of their songs, and sang on three of their albums: They Only Come Out at Night, Shock Treatment, and The Edgar Winter Group with Rick Derringer.[14] He wrote and sang the band's second biggest pop hit, "Free Ride", in 1972. The ballad "Autumn" on Edgar's LP They Only Come Out at Night was a regional radio hit in New England.[15] Hartman also wrote the band's charting singles "Easy Street" and "River’s Risin" from the Shock Treatment album.[16][17] He became known for wearing the Guitar Suit, which he designed with Los Angeles Couturier Bill Witten out of a rubbery fabric that allowed Hartman to insert an electric guitar in a pelvic pocket.[18][19]

Solo career and producing[edit]

In an interview snippet from Portzline (2014), Hartman stated that he started producing at an early age:

I started producing before I even joined the Legends—around 1962... I produced some local R&B, rock and gospel acts at Baldwin Sound in Mechanicsburg [Pennsylvania]. People would hear what I'd done on someone else's record and call me up and ask if I'd produce them, too. I even wrote and recorded an advertising jingle for Sutliff Chevrolet out on Paxton Street when I was 16. So it's always been something that I could fall back on throughout my career--to keep my mind going, to keep me musically inspired, and to keep me moving without having to make statements of my own.[20]

Hartman served as a producer for The Legends. In 1971, Hartman produced the Hydraulic Peach for Arpeggio Records.[21] Upon launching a solo career in 1976, he released a promotional album titled Who Is Dan Hartman and Why Is Everyone Saying Wonderful Things About Him? It was a compilation disc including songs from Johnny Winter and the Edgar Winter Group. His second release, Images, was his first true album and featured ex-Edgar Winter Group members Edgar Winter, Ronnie Montrose and Rick Derringer and guests Clarence Clemons and Randy Brecker.[14][22]

In 1976, Sérgio Mendes & Brasil '77 did an arrangement of the song "Tell Me in a Whisper" (which had been co-written by Hartman and Winter) on the Homecooking album.[23] Around 1976, Hartman began using one of the rooms of a colonial home in Westport, Connecticut (dubbed "The Schoolhouse") to serve as a recording studio. The rest of the house's rooms were wired for recording and to allow for different sounds by the artists. He did not charge exorbitant rates, so that new acts at the time such as The Outsets could record demos.[24] Hartman produced albums for artists such as .38 Special, Foghat, David Johansen and Rick Derringer.[25] During late 1977, blues legend Muddy Waters used "The Schoolhouse" to record his album I'm Ready. Hartman ran the recording board for the sessions and Johnny Winter served as the producer.[24]

In late 1978, partly due to being introduced by the Studio 54 sound system, Hartman reached No. 1 on the Dance Charts with the disco single "Instant Replay" (the title track of his third full-length album Instant Replay) which crossed over to No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979 and also reached the Top 10 on the UK charts.[26] Musicians Hartman worked with on the associated album included Vinnie Vincent and G. E. Smith.[27] This was followed by his second chart topper, 1979's "Relight My Fire" (the title track of his fourth full-length album Relight My Fire), which featured friend Loleatta Holloway on vocals.[28] An instrumental version of the song later became the theme for the NBC talk show Tomorrow. He wrote and produced the 1980 Disco hit "Love Sensation" performed by American R&B singer Loleatta Holloway.[29] The same year and in 1981, Hartman was among the lineup for Hilly Michaels' albums Calling All Girls and Lumia respectively.[30][31] Hartman wrote the song "It's Never Too Late", which was sung by Diana Ross and featured on her 1981 album Why Do Fools Fall in Love.[32]

In 1982, Hartman produced Average White Band's album Cupid's in Fashion.[33] The album was recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in New York with additional recordings done at "The Schoolhouse". In a 2016 interview, Hartman's close friend Blanche Napoleon—who provided backing vocals for "Instant Replay" and his other early albums—revealed that he created music for Gillette commercials around 1982 (she even provided background harmonies for one of the commercials). She worked with him on some of his other commercial work.[34][35][36] In 1983, Hartman played bass on the song "Speechless" featured on Ian Hunter's album All of the Good Ones Are Taken.[37] Hartman co-wrote the song "Heart Skip Too Many Beats" with Janis Ian and it was featured on her 1984 album Uncle Wonderful (Hartman performed with Ian on the track).[38][39] Around 1984, Hartman also worked as a lyricist and producer for Rugsted & Kreutzfeldt's album Sold Out (also referred to as R'n'K Band).[40]

Hartman was back on the charts again with the single "I Can Dream About You", which was featured on his album of the same name, as well as the Streets of Fire soundtrack in 1984. The tune reached No. 6 on the U.S. charts, and (on re-release in 1985) No. 12 in the UK. Hartman was featured as a bartender in one of the two videos that were released for the single, which received heavy rotation on MTV. (Note that the single and album version of "I Can Dream About You" is sung by Hartman; within the movie Streets of Fire, the song is performed by a fictional vocal group called The Sorels, whose lead singer is played by Stoney Jackson; the actual vocal in the film was performed by Winston Ford). Aside from focusing on his solo career, Hartman provided background vocals for John Jarrett's Tribe's self-titled album.[41] More so, in 1984, Hartman arranged and engineered Neil Sedaka's album Come See About Me.[14] Hartman last worked as an engineer for Sedaka on the musician's 1981 album Neil Sedaka: Now.[24]

In 1984, Hartman also performed "Heart of the Beat" under the band name 3V with Charlie Midnight for the soundtrack of Breakin', directed by Joel Silberg and, in 1985, scored a third Number 1 single on the Dance Music charts, "We Are the Young".[42] The single "Second Nature" also charted during this period. Also in 1985, Hartman's song "Talking To The Wall" was featured on the soundtrack to the film Perfect starring Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta. He toured with Toto in 1985.[14][43][44] He closed the year cowriting "(Krush Groove) Can't Stop the Street" with Charlie Midnight for the film Krush Groove and the song was performed by Chaka Khan.[45][46][47]

Hartman produced the song "I Won't Steal Away" (which he co-wrote with Midnight and Alides Hidding) for the band Time Bandits, which appeared on their 1985 album Fiction.[48] In 1985 and 1986, Hartman worked on what was planned as his subsequent studio album, White Boy; he wanted the album to have a darker and more mature sound than his previous work. The album was completed in 1986, but the record label, MCA, thought it was too dissimilar to Hartman's previous work, especially "I Can Dream About You", and refused to release it.[49] White Boy has never been released, though some test pressings of the album were made that are now held by collectors, and some of the songs from the album are available on the internet. One song from the album, "Waiting to See You", was used in the 1986 film Ruthless People and its accompanying soundtrack album and was subsequently released as a single. He also co-produced a version of the song "Great Gosh O Mighty" for the film Down and Out in Beverly Hills. For his 1986 album Lifetime Friend, Little Richard (who performed the song in the aforementioned film) used a different version.[50][51][52] Also, in 1986, Hartman was reported to be producing Lou Gramm's first solo album (Gramm was then the lead singer of Foreigner), though the opportunity did not materialize.[53][54] In 1988, Hartman co-wrote the song "Why Should I Worry?" with Charlie Midnight for the Walt Disney Animation Studios film Oliver & Company.

Hartman worked as a songwriter, producer, and collaborated with such artists as the Plasmatics (Hartman produced a demo version of Coup d'Etat in 1982, which was released as Coup de Grace in 2000),[55][56] Nona Hendryx (she co-wrote the song "Electricity" with Hartman, which was featured on his 1984 I Can Dream About You album),[57] James Brown (Gravity; 1986),[58] Steve Winwood (Hartman provided backing vocals on "The Finer Things", which was featured on Winwood's 1986 album Back in the High Life),[59] Time Bandits (Can't Wait for Another World, 1987; co-produced with Midnight),[60] John Waite (the song "Sometimes", cowritten by Hartman and Midnight, was featured on the 1987 album Rover's Return),[61] Paul King (Joy; 1987),[62] Tina Turner (Foreign Affair; 1989),[63] Joe Cocker (Unchain My Heart and One Night of Sin; 1987 and 1989 respectively),[64] Holly Johnson (Blast; 1989),[65] Living in a Box (Gatecrashing; 1989),[66] Dusty Springfield (Reputation; 1990),[67][68] Tom Robinson (We Never Had It So Good - later re-released as Blood Brother; 1990),[69][70] and Bonnie Tyler (Bitterblue; 1991).[71][72] Hartman produced and co-wrote "Living in America", a No. 4 hit for James Brown which appeared on the soundtrack of the feature film Rocky IV (1985). The song was the last of Brown's 44 hit recordings to appear on the Billboard Top 40 charts. The track also appeared on the Hartman produced album Gravity.[73][74][58][75] In 1987, Hartman and Charlie Midnight were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song. Brown won a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.[76]

In 1989, he released his last studio album New Green Clear Blue, an instrumental new age-styled album.[71] In January 1990, a cover version of "Instant Replay" recorded by the British duo Yell! became a top 10 hit.[77] Also, in 1990, he co-wrote with longtime collaborator Charlie Midnight 9.95 (performed by Spunkadelic) for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie. In 1991, Hartman recorded "(That's Your) Consciousness" for the soundtrack to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. Also, during the same year, Paul Young featured a cover version of "I'm Only Foolin' Myself" on his compilation album From Time to Time – The Singles Collection.[78] Additionally, in 1991, Marc Anthony covered the song "Name of the Game" (featured on Hartman's I Can Dream About You album) on his collaboration album with Little Louie Vega entitled When the Night Is Over.[79]

Personal life and death[edit]

Hartman was never married and had no children. He died on March 22, 1994, at his Westport, Connecticut, home from an AIDS-related[80] brain tumor.[1][77] A closeted gay man,[81][82][83] he was diagnosed with HIV in the late 1980s.[80] He kept his HIV status a secret and supposedly did not seek treatment,[84] even after friend and intermittent collaborator Holly Johnson (formerly of the band Frankie Goes to Hollywood) announced his own HIV status in 1991.[81] His remains were cremated; he was survived by both parents, his brother Dave, and sister Kathy.

In May 1994, the "Dan Hartman: A Celebration of His Life and Music" memorial concert was performed at New York's Sound Factory Bar. Nona Hendryx, Loleatta Holloway, and producer Frankie Knuckles were among the participants.[85]

Legacy[edit]

Hartman has been renowned for his musical versatility.[8] In his last will and testament, Hartman created the Dan Hartman Arts and Music Foundation (located in Los Angeles, California) with Charlie Midnight as his sole trustee.[86] At the time of his death, Hartman was recording a solo album for CHAOS/Columbia. The record label had no immediate plans to release Hartman's unfinished work.[87] In 1996, it was announced that EMI Music Publishing purchased Hartman's complete catalog.[88] During the same year, Tom Robinson released the song "Connecticut" in memory of Hartman. The song appears on Robinson's album Having It Both Ways.[15] Years after Robinson's tribute, Kathy Hartman—as frontwoman of the band Signal 30—released "A Song for Dan" in memory of her brother. She has also released the song "Bad Movies", which she had co-wrote with her late brother.[89][90][91]

Also, at the time of his death, Hartman's music was enjoying a revival of sorts: a cover version of "Relight My Fire" became a British number-one hit for Take That and Lulu in 1993.[92] Sales of Hartman's solo recordings, group efforts, production, songwriting and compilation inclusions had exceeded 50 million records worldwide. Around December 1994, the album Keep the Fire Burnin' was posthumously released – a compilation featuring remixes of earlier hits and previously unreleased material.[93] The album spawned two singles; "The Love in Your Eyes" and "Keep the Fire Burnin'", the latter featuring Holloway.[5][94][95] Hartman's version of "Free Ride" was featured in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie the year after his death.[96] In 1996, Audio Adrenaline included a cover version of "Free Ride" on their album Bloom.[97]

In 2006, twelve years after Hartman's death, "I Can Dream About You" was featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories; "Relight My Fire" was also featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony.[98] In 2010, folk rockers Louis Barabbas & The Bedlam Six turned "Relight My Fire" into an ode to whiskey.[99]

On September 4, 2015, "I Can Dream About You" was featured in the Amazon Studio series Hand of God (performed briefly by Elizabeth McLaughlin in Season 1, Episode 8—"One Saved Message").[citation needed]

Dan Hartman was among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal Studios fire.[100] In 2020, Hartman was inducted into the Central Pennsylvania Music Hall of Fame with Kathy Hartman accepting the honor on his behalf. Other inductees included Poison, Bobby Troup, and The Sharks.[101][102]

In honor of Pride Month 2021, Hiro Clark—in collaboration with Scissor Sisters member Ana Matronic—launched the "Cowley Hartman Russell" T-shirt to honor Hartman and other legendary disco producers Patrick Cowley and Arthur Russell.[103]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Unreleased albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

Singles[edit]

Year Song U.S. Hot 100[104] U.S. R&B[105] U.S. A.C.[106] U.S. Dance[107] UK Singles Chart[108] Australian Singles Chart Album
1976 "High Sign" - - - - - - Images
1977 "Lighthouse" - - - - - -
1978 "Instant Replay" 29 44 - 1 8 6 Instant Replay
"Chocolate Box" - - - - - -
1979 "Time and Space" - - - - - -
"This Is It" (b/w "Countdown") 91 - - - 17 -
"Hands Down" - - - 26 - - Relight My Fire
"Free Ride" 1[109] - - - -
"Boogie All Summer" - - - - - - non-album single
1980 "Vertigo"/"Relight My Fire" 105 - - 1 - - Relight My Fire
1981 "It Hurts to Be in Love" 72 - - 48 - - It Hurts to Be in Love
"Heaven in Your Arms" 86 - - - - -
"All I Need" 110[110] - 41 - - -
1984 "I Can Dream About You" 2 6 60 7 8 12 3 I Can Dream About You
"We Are the Young" 25 58 - 1 - -
"Name of the Game" - - - - - -
1985 "Second Nature" 39 - 19 40 66 -
"Get Outta Town" - - - - 99 - Fletch (soundtrack)
1986 "Waiting to See You" - - - - - - Ruthless People (soundtrack)
1988 "The Love You Take" (with Denise Lopez) - - - - - - Scrooged (soundtrack)
1994 "The Love in Your Eyes" - - - - - - Keep the Fire Burnin'
1995 "Keep the Fire Burnin'" (with Loleatta Holloway) - - - - 49 -

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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