When did you first meet Dan Hartman and how did your collaboration
on your album 'Joy' come about?
I first met Dan in the late
spring of 1986. At the time the band King, a British rock pop
group, were looking to beef up our recorded sound. Having toured
the USA we felt that American recordings no matter what style
of live performing musician just sounded more raw and punchier
than anything coming out of the UK at the time.
So we began a search for a stateside
producer who understood both rock and dance music and that eventually
led to my meeting with Dan at his hotel near Swiss Cottage.
were your impressions of Dan when you met him?
witty and very knowledgeable on the current UK pop scene, which
surprised me a little. My interest in Dan as a producer was mainly
based around his then recent work on the James Brown Gravity
Album. The band was not Jamess group but players that Dan
had put together and recorded. It had all the right funk power
andrhythmic ingredients that we were seeking but I wanted to see
if Dan shared my vision of taking that sound and throwing lots
of noisy guitar over the top. Also to be honest I was checking
to see if we could get some of those players from Gravity onto
our album. We discussed his Edgar Winter years, the disco hits
and his song writing credentials. I remember walking away from
the evening very impressed.
'Joy' was recorded at Multilevel
- can you tell us how long it took to do the recording and what
was it like working with Dan in the studio?
Later that summer, following
a Japanese tour with King I flew to Dans home to meet up
with Charlie Midnight with the aim of collaborating on new material.
The intention was that any songs created would be for Kings next
album but apart from the dates in Japan by this time the band
had pretty much fallen apart.
In truth this situation suited
Dan better as now he was free to pull together the kind of players
he felt more confident recording with. We taped 85% of what was
to become the Joy album at Multi level during late
fall and winter of 1986-87. As well as being a talented musician,
composer and producer, Dan was also an excellent recording engineer.
He was responsible for all areas involved in running the sessions
be that controlling the desk to microphone placements on drums
and instruments. I remember when we had finished the sessions
sitting in the control room in Multilevel with a friend who was
a sound engineer listening back to the master tapes. As we sat
raising the faders it was an incredible realisation that the tracks
sounded as if they were already finished. Dan had recorded the
songs so perfectly that very little fixing was required to create
the impression of what was the final record.
Did you meet any other artists
whilst at Multilevel?
Not so much at Multilevel.
As I said the majority of the tracks were taped in Westport but
this mainly involved the rhythm and percussion parts along with
bass, guitars and keyboards. Other artists such as Nona Hendrix
who was a good friend of Dans, Carlos Alomar the guitarist
and the Uptown Horns whom Dan had used on the Gravity sessions
with James Brown, we recorded in New York at Green Street Studios.
The one exception was the backing
vocals session for the album at Multilevel with Aretha Franklins
backing singers. I remember this as a wonderful day. Caroline
Franklin, Arethas sister and composer of some Arethas
best songs, was part of the group and it was a genuine joy
listening to them offer so much soul and beauty to the tracks
we were creating.
How did you collaborate with Dan
and Charlie Midnight when writing the songs for the album? How
did the songs evolve?
I remember it all being
very comfortable, relaxed and quick. Dan and Charlie had put some
homework into myself as singer and performer. Theyd listened
to King material watched the concert footage and videos as well
as reading some press interviews. They had a vision of what material
they could bring to the table to develop the groups sound and
direction. We had two days of writing, Charlie had some lyrical
themes we agreed to work with, Dan had some tunes up his sleeve
and so did I so it felt like a very easy creative atmosphere.
In those two days we sketched out around 6 songs, in fact it was
such a positive session and experience it became the deciding
factor in my leaving the band.
Did you do any other work with
Yes we did. This would have
been the late summer of 1987 after the album was released; Dan
came to London and suggested we get together to work on some more
tunes. We spent a couple of days writing in a Soho studio and
recorded four songs.
What is your favourite Dan Hartman
song and why?
I can dream about
you Ive always been a sucker for blue-eyed soul
when its done well. Its a beautifully crafted tune
with a great vocal performance.
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?
The last time I saw him
was in a restaurant in Chelsea where he and a number of other
writer producers were having dinner with Tina Turners manager
pitching material for her next album. That must have been around
The last time I spoke to him would
have been 1993; I was producing at VH1 and MTV had asked me for
some ideas on names and contacts to approach for a special on
Disco they were creating. I called Dan to see if he would be interested
in being a contributor.
He wasnt too well at that
time but pleased to hear from me. I guessed because of his illness
he didnt want to be involved in the Disco show.
Can you share a few personal memories
Lots really. Plenty of pasta
cooking, Dan had found a company in Arizona who supplied different
sorts of fresh pasta which was the mainstay of our diet during
sessions at Westport. He liked sitting and talking in the evenings
with a nice wine and good music. We played a lot of records in
the evenings I recall him playing me Tom Robinsons record
that he really loved. Also I remember Dan taking me to Paradise
Garage in New York a nightclub that has since taken on legendry
status for the dance and house music fraternity. I thought the
whole thing was amazing, the club, the people and the music; Dan
was less impressed; he thought it was merely a poor versions of
disco. We went a number of times as Dan knew most the DJs
and we seriously discussed changing the whole approach on my album
into the Paradise sound or what were calling a dance record but
has since come to be known as house music.
What do you miss most about Dan?
He was a huge talent and
fun person. We only worked with each other for about a year and
although I would not describe us as great friends I do think on
Dan with fondness and affection. I learnt from him during what
was a growing period in my career and life. I miss the fact that
we no longer have the opportunities to hear music from a man who
so obviously loved the thing that he did and did so well.