Dan Hartman started classical piano studies at the age of seven, but changed his focus under the influence of pop radio. At thirteen he had his own band, The Legends, and was writing songs and producing gospel at a local studio.
Impressed by Hartman's demo tape, Steve Paul introduced him to Edgar Winter, who had just disbanded White Trash. The result of Hartman and Winter's first collaboration, the double platinum They Only Come Out at Night, featured Hartman on bass, guitar and keyboards; he also co-wrote half the songs on the album and sang lead on the hit single "Free Ride." He was a member of the Edgar Winter Group for three years. In the 1970s he also worked as a session musician with artists as diverse as Ian Hunter, Stevie Wonder, Todd Rundgren, and Ronnie Montrose; co-produced Winter's solo album Jasmine Nightdreams; and produced Foghat's Nightshift.
After three years with Winter, Hartman left the band and turned his attention to writing his own music. He released his first solo recording, the pop/rock Images, in 1976.
In 1978 he shifted from rock to disco. His album Instant Replay was a hit, as was the title single, and led to a world-wide tour. The next album, Relight My Fire, featured a duet with Loleatta Holloway on the title track, and Hartman jamming with Edgar Winter and Stevie Wonder on the song "Hands Down," but was less successful than Instant Replay. Hartman then spent some years producing other artists, including .38 Special, the Average White Band, and James Brown; he was the producer for Brown's comeback hit, "Living in America," in 1986.
But Hartman too had a comeback hit in 1985, when his collaboration with Charlie Midnight resulted in the enormously successful pop/soul album I Can Dream About You. The single of that name was used in the soundtrack to the film Streets of Fire and is perhaps the best known of his singles.
His 1989 album New Green Clear Blue did not do as well, and Hartman turned once again to producing. His last production projects, after he was diagnosed as HIV-positive, included tracks for Holly Johnson and Tina Turner. He was preparing a new album at the time of his death in 1994.
By then his music was being sampled by many dance groups, including Black Box on "Ride On Time," and Take That, whose version of "Relight My Fire" went to number 1 in the U.K. Hartman's songs have been performed by Tavares, the Three-Degrees, Rick Derringer, Johnny Winter, Ronnie Montrose and Sergio Mendes.
Dan Hartman died of AIDS at the age of 43 on March 22, 1994. — Nurit Tilles
Saturday Night Forever: The Story of Disco by Alan Jones, Jussi Kantonen and Joel Brodsky
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (September 1, 2000)
Amazon: Saturday Night Forever: The Story of Disco
During the 1970s disco was the sound track to the lives of millions. Its hedonism, drive, and sweet, catchy melodies made dancers worldwide experience the bliss of complete abandon. This book traces its entire history, from the underground dives of New York to the glittering clubs of Rome. Along the way, the book provides instruction on how to do the hustle and the bus stop; explains the gay subculture central to disco; explores disco fashions, movies, clubs, and drugs; and tells the fascinating stories behind not only the American hits but the Eurodisco masterpieces, the soft-porn divas, and the mysterious producers behind the shimmering sound.
More LGBT History at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Gay Classics
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