Memories of Dan Hartman


Holly Johnson

Holly Johnson


When did you first meet Dan Hartman?

He came round to my house in London in 1988. To talk about producing tracks on my first solo album after I left Frankie Goes To Hollywood. I also appeared on the same bill as Dan earlier on a outdoor live TV event called Rock around The Dock in Liverpool 1986? I think-he performed I Can Dream About You. I still have it on video somewhere...

What were your first impressions?

Energy!- A BIT OF A HUSTLER. He did that James Brown accent/impression he was so fond of doing "Holly....You Bad!"

Dan had a lot of Stamina in the studio, he could keep working when everybody else's ass was draggin'. He was so much fun, but could be a pain. Always on the phone sorting out the next songwriting or producing gig.

He wore cowboy boots with the jeans tucked in:-)

He was very confident and competent. He could impersonate almost any singers voice and patched up a few dodgy vocal takes. Although he said he couldn't do me.

He was a bit closety about his sexuality as far as the Music Industry was concerned , He was more open with Gay musicians and colleagues however. He discovered that he was HIV Positive while he was working with me apparently. But he didn't tell me. In fact he never told me even after he heard that I had gone public about my HIV status in 1991. Which was kind of strange.

How did "Atomic City" come about?

I had all the lyrics and vocal ideas already sorted out but needed someone to sort out the structure, Dan came up with the funky bassline and made it work. He asked for 10% of the song!-0

Did you have any other projects lined up with Dan?

Regretfully I didn't ask him to do my second solo album, he was a bit miffed. I should have done with hindsight. We did meet up whenever he was in London though.

Were you ever at Multi-Level Studios-Dan's recording studio in Westport, Ct?

Yes We reworked a track on the BLAST album there. Me and my partner Wolfgang spent New Years at his home 1988-9. S.U.C.C.E.S.S. was a demo of mine that he loved. Stephen Hague had botched it up a little so we recreated the demo version. It was a very compact but professional studio. Where he had made some great stuff in the past. It was an extension to his house. James Brown recorded Gravity there and the song SUCCESS was inspired partly by that track so it seemed very appropriate.

On a shopping trip to Westport Dan would not go into K-Mart. He could not believe that these hip Europeans thought it was a great store, so kitsch. To him it was just low class. He was funny like that.

Can you tell us when you last saw Dan- how he was doing at the time-and any projects he was planning on working on in the future..?

He was working with Paul Young at Olympic Studios. He had got into spiritual Healing which he talked about. Our last phone conversation was a bit strange.

What is your favourite Dan Hartman song and why?

I Can Dream About You was very cool but Living In America and Relight My Fire are favourites also.

Many thanks to Holly Johnson for his contribution.

More information about Holly Johnson and his musical collaborations here.


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