Doobie Brothers drummer John Hartman has died at the age of 72.

His former bandmates described him as a “wild spirit” in a statement on social media marking his death, which did not specify John’s cause of death.

The band, named after the 1970s slang for marijuana, ‘doobie’, said in a joint tribute: ‘Today we think of John Hartman, or Little John to us. John was a wild spirit, a great drummer and showman during his time with the Doobies.

“He’s also been a close friend over the years and an intricate part of the band’s personality!

“We offer our condolences to all his loved ones at this difficult time. Rest in peace, John.”

Despite the success of The Doobie Brothers, John tired of the internal tensions and illness that were tearing the group apart and left the group in 1979.

In 2020, he told Rolling Stone magazine the reason for his departure was that, in his opinion, “everything was falling apart” in the group, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that same year and has sold more than 40 million records worldwide.

John tried to become a police officer after leaving the force and graduating from the reserve police academy.

He was turned down by 20 police departments across California because of his known past and history with drugs.

John told the New York Times in the 1990s how his past marijuana use was the “main” reason he tried to start a new career in law enforcement, adding, “These guys still think I’m a credibility problem because of what i was doing. I got out of the sewers.’

John then rejoined The Doobie Brothers for a show for Vietnam Veterans in 1987 and their comeback album Cycles in 1989.

He said of coming to terms with growing old with the band, best known for hits including ‘What a Fool Believes’: ‘The road treats us the same, it’s just that we don’t treat it the same. We don’t destroy hotel rooms anymore and we don’t have door wars with rental cars, burning stages and things like that.”

Born in 1950 in Falls Church, Virginia, John became a musician and became part of the tumultuous 1970s California scene.

He formed The Doobie Brothers with frontman Tom Johnston, now 74 and still the face of the group.

They added Michael Hossack as a second drummer alongside John, but ran into difficulties when Tom was struck down by an illness brought on by grueling touring, leading to him being rushed to hospital with a bleeding stomach ulcer.

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