Memories of Dan Hartman

 

Glenn Ellison

Hi Glenn, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for the DanHartman.com website. What made you want to get involved?

Well, I found the site about a month ago, read all the posts and realised they were mostly from people who knew Dan professionally. I wanted to be one of the first of his many personal friends to share some memories.

How and when did you both meet?

It was early January 1984 at 30,000 feet flying from New York to LA. I was returning from a business trip and job interview to my home in LA. Dan was going to finish up work on “I Can Dream About You”.

Dan Hartman at Janice's Restaurant in NYC 1984
Glenn, Carl Hartman (Dan's father), Dan, Charlie Midnight
seated in front of an EWG poster, Janice's Restaurant, NYC
in 1984

How did you wind up in Westport at Multilevel?

Dan and I had a lot in common and became close friends. Two months later I got the job I had interviewed for, in December, and Dan asked me to live in his house until I found a place of my own. I was in and out of Westport for the next 10 years. I bought a small Coop in the Village in 1985.

Dan Hartman at Multilevel
Dan at work in his studio at Multilevel in 1984.
Note the bottle of wine on top of the equipment!

Dan Hartman with Mavis Staples and Paul King during the production of the Joy album
Dan with Mavis Staples and Paul King at
Multilevel during the making of Paul's Joy album

Did you get to experience any of Dan’s recording sessions?

Oh, absolutely – I was there for many of them, the only non-musician in the group! I provided hand-claps.

Dan Hartman with the Winters Studio 54
Glenn, the Winters and Dan at Studio 54
during a party held in Dan's honour

Is that when you first met Charlie Midnight?

Yes, Charlie Midnight is a great guy and huge talent. He was the perfect compliment to Dan’s music and they worked extremely well together.

Dan Hartman live in 1986
Dan on the road with his band in 1986

Dan Hartman in Venice 1986
Dan in Venice, Italy, 1986

Have you a favourite composition?

Gosh – There are so many, some of which were on the “Whiteboy” project that has never been released. “Circle of Light” comes to mind as a brilliant and moving track. I have a tape of the whole project and it was some of their best work. Dan’s music was always evolving and Charlie was right there with him.

Dan and Kathy Hartman
Dan and Kathy Hartman in 1986

Who were some of the artists you met while working with Dan?

Neil Sedaka, Paul King, Alison Moyet, Nona Hendryx, Janis Ian, James Brown, Mavis Staples.

Dan Hartman with Neil Sedaka 1985
Glenn and Dan with Neil and Leba Sedaka, NYC, 1985

Dan Hartman with Patti Austin and Russ Titleman 1986
Patti Austin, Dan, Mr and Mrs Russ Titleman
at home in Westport, 1986

 

How would you describe the private Dan?

Dan was the genuine article, full of passion and joy for just living. He was never a celebrity to his close friends, and was always charming and giving to his fans. He definitely has a spiritual side, that wasn’t so religious , as it was about the soul, and how to make the most out of the time we have on earth. He was kind and gentle to a fault.

Dan Hartman with Nona Hendryx
Dan with Nona Hendryx in LA attending the
Grammy Awards in 1986 - James Brown won with
best performance of Dan and Charlie's 'Livin in America

Dan Hartman with the Ellen Foley Band in 1986
Charlie Midnight (left) and Dan with the Ellen Foley Band, 1986

Do you remember the first time you saw him perform?

Oh yes, and what a shock. I had only known him a couple of months when we went to a dance club in the Village. He was going to try out a couple of new songs there. Jellybean Benitez was in the DJ booth with his girlfriend Madonna who had just had her first hit with Holiday. Dan jumped on stage and performed “We Are The Young” and “I Can Dream About You”. He was incredible and the crowd loved it. With all those dance hits in his past, man could he move, as well as sing!

Dan Hartman with Cyndi Lauper 1986
Cyndi Lauper with Dan about to perform in 1986

Dan Hartman with a fan at the Limelight Club 1986
Dan posing with a fan at the Limelight Clube, NYC, 1986

Dan Hartman with Cecilia Lewis 1989
Dan with close friend, photographer
Cecilia Lewis, NYC, 1989

Are there any special memories you would like to share?

Hundreds. Maybe we’ll save some for another chat. The two that really stick out in my mind were the fun of touring Europe with him when “I Can Dream About You” was climbing the charts. I saw him sing it many times and the crowds responded by wanting to sing and dance with him. When you hear the song today there is the same response. It is an all time pop masterpiece.

Dan Hartman in Cabo 1992
Dan on vacation in Cabo, Mexico, 1992

The second memory occurred ten years later, 1993. Dan had a difficult year, health wise, in and out of hospital. I had been back in California for about three years by this time so I couldn’t see him as often as I’d like. As fate would have it, in December, I was out of a job so I flew back and spent the entire month at his newly remodelled home. We had the greatest time of our 10 year friendship. He rallied and seemed to be making a full recovery. We turned the house into a Christmas fantasy, saw all the holiday shows in Manhattan and laughed 24/7. When I flew back to LA on New Year’s Day I thought he would live forever.

Glenn, thank you for your insights and the great photos and video clips you sent us.

It is my great pleasure to help in anyway I can. I have many memories of this great man. Dan would be so moved to think that this website was created and maintained by fans who never even met him – just as I am.

Thank you.

 

June 2006

Many thanks to Glenn Ellison for his kind co-operation with this article.
Photos and text © Copyright 2006 - Glenn Ellison/DanHartman.com

 

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