Wednesday, March 27, 2013

 

Whatever Happened to Dan Hartman?

Dan Hartman wrote "Free Ride," which became a Billboard Hot 100 top 20 hit for the Edgar Winter Group in 1972, but his first hit single as a solo performer was "Instant Replay," which reached the top spot on the U.S. Dance chart in 1978 and peaked at number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is impossible to listen to this song without dancing or at least tapping your feet:


It is fashionable to make fun of disco music and the disco era but what is wrong with music that is upbeat--literally and figuratively--and full of joy? I loved listening to disco music when I was a little kid in the 1970s and I still love listening to it today.

Hartman again topped the U.S. Dance chart in 1980 with "Relight my Fire"; the extended version of the song includes the four minute intro titled "Vertigo":


Unrequited love is a recurring theme in Hartman's music; "It Hurts to Be in Love" reached number 48 on the U.S. Dance chart in 1982:




"It Hurts to Be in Love" was the title track of an album that had particular meaning to Hartman: "This music is closer to me because it has more romantic sensitivity than I've allowed myself to show in past productions. I'm really pouring it all out. I guess you could say there's more Dan Hartman in there than any other record I've done." Hartman wrote, produced, played and recorded the album in his home studio in Connecticut. Hartman felt that this working arrangement brought out his best: "My music is spontaneous and provides an outlet for emotional release and expression, while my studio allows me to write, arrange and record my own songs within that same space. The result is music that comes straight from my heart--I can capture more feeling that way."

Hartman added, "I'm absorbed by the elements of 1980's pop music. The new album shows how aware I've become, and how I think others have become as well, with the personal needs for love. People are happy in love, and people are hurt by love, and in that way it does talk about my personal life and feelings too."

Hartman wrote "I Can Dream About You" for the movie "Streets of Fire"; he did not perform the song in the movie but Hartman's version peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984, thus becoming Hartman's only top 10 pop hit:



"We Are the Young," another single from the "I Can Dream About You" album, reached number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984 and also became Hartman's third and final number one dance hit:



Although Hartman did not have any more hit singles as a performer, he had a very successful run in the 1980s and early 1990s as a songwriter/producer. He co-wrote "Living in America" with Charlie Midnight; James Brown won the 1987 Grammy Award for best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Living in America," one of the the biggest U.S. pop hits of his career and his last top 40 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (it peaked at number four).

Hartman died of a brain tumor in 1994. He was just 43 years old.

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