Our Top 10 Dan Hartman Songs list presents the best Dan Hartman Songs like “I Can Dream About You,” “Instant Replay” and many more. Singer-songwriter Dan Hartman was born on December 8, 1950, in Dauphin County’s Harrisburg. Hartman became an accomplished pianist even while he was still just a child. His niche at the time was classical music. As he got older, he also took up singing in the school choir, which saw him develop a fondness for Motown-style music. Starting in junior high school, he also practiced journalism and theater. He was thirteen years old when he joined his first band after his older brother, David, asked him to play keyboards. The musical style of Legends started off with soul-style music before venturing into and mixing the genres of hard rock and psychedelic.
In 1970, Dan replaced his older brother when David decided to leave the band. This new role witnessed the younger Hartman writing music, as well as playing more than just the keyboards. Although Legends released a number of recordings, they did not have their popularity as a band extend beyond the state of Pennsylvania. In the meantime, in order to make ends meet, Hartman worked at a bank. At the time, Hartman strove to earn better recognition for the band he took over from his brother. He went as far as recruiting the assistance of a highly influential radio celebrity named Ronnie G. Shaeffer, a man who helped Hartman iron out the performance kinks in his group, as well as establish record label connections. This led to a 1971 introduction of Edgar Winter to Dan Hartman, courtesy of Steve Paul, president of Blue Sky Records. Winter, after disbanding his previous band, White Trash, teamed up with his younger brother, Johnny Winter, to form his band.
Edgar Winter Group
In 1972, Dan Hartman was now full-time with the Edgar Winter Group, playing bass for the band. He also co-wrote many of their songs, which featured him singing on three of their studio albums, namely They Only Come Out at Night, Shock Treatment, and The Edgar Winter Group with Rick Derringer. One of Edgar Winter Group’s signature songs, “Free Ride” was written by Dan Hartman. While with the band, Hartman began to sport the infamous Guitar Suit, which was a rubbery fabric that allowed an electric guitar to be plugged into it through a pelvic pocket.
In 1976, Dan Hartman released his first recording as a solo artist, Who Is Dan Hartman and Why Is Everyone Saying Wonderful Things About Him?. The recordings featured a series of songs while he was with Johnny Winter and the Edgar Winter Group. His second album release as a musician officially embarking on a solo career was 1976’s Images. Working with him on this recording were members of a now-disbanded Edgar Winter Group, including Edgar Winter himself. Rick Derringer and Ronnie Montrose were also featured in the album, as were Randy Brecker and Clarence Clemons.
1978’s “Instant Replay” was Dan Hartman’s first single to become a big hit for the man as a solo musician. It was the title track from his third studio album, which also became a top ten hit in the UK. In 1979, Hartman recorded and released his fourth studio album, Relight My Fire, which featured its title track also becoming a number one hit in the dance music scene. As impressive as these two hits were, “I Can Dream About You” served as the biggest hit in the man’s career as a solo artist.
As successful as Dan Hartman was as a singer, songwriter, and recording artist, this did not make him immune to experiencing conflict with a major record label. White Boy was a studio album he spent 1985 and 1986 working on and it was supposed to be released by MCA Records. However, the label refused to do so as the company felt it was a sharp contrast to his previous material. Only among collectors and on the internet are some of the songs from that album that can be accessed. This was later followed in 1989 by Dan Hartman’s final studio album recording, New Green Clear Blue. Unlike his previous releases, this was a new-age instrumental album that showcased his musical talent without involving any vocals.
Dan Hartman Legacy
As a songwriter, Dan Hartman was responsible for backing, writing, co-writing, and producing hit albums and singles. World-class artists such as James Brown, Joe Cocker, Tina Turner, and Steve Winwood are among a few of the top names that worked with Hartman. Some of their most commercially successful material came from his collaboration with them. While Hartman was with Legends, he produced the band’s music for them. He did the same for 38 Special, Rick Derringer, Foghat, and David Johansen. The list of artists whom he has contributed is every bit as impressive as the man himself. He was instrumental in Charlie Midnight’s 1987 Grammy Award win for Best R&B Song, thanks to Hartman’s contribution. This was also the case for James Brown, “Living in America” earned him a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance after it made its iconic impression in 1985’s Rocky IV blockbuster and soundtrack.
Despite Dan Hartman’s incredible success as an artist of many talents, he never married nor did he have any children. His sexual preference leaned in the direction of men but made a point not to make it public news for the sake of enjoying a quieter, tabloid-free life. When he died in his Connecticut home on March 22, 1994, the cause of death was a brain tumor that manifested after he was diagnosed with the HIV virus. Not only did he keep his medical condition a secret but opted not to seek treatment. In May 1994, a memorial concert was held in his honor at the Sound Factory Bar in New York City.
In Dan Hartman’s will and testament, he created the Dan Hartman Acts and Music Foundation. His longtime friend and collaborator, Charlie Midnight, was named as the sole trustee. When Hartman died, he was in the process of recording another solo album. Keep the Fire Burnin’ was a posthumous compilation album that was released in 1994 and brought forth two singles, including its title track and “The Love in Your Eyes.” In 1995, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, featured Hartman’s cover version of Edgar Winter Group’s “Free Ride,” which was a song that was co-written by Hartman while he was still a member of the band. Come 2020, he was inducted into the Central Pennsylvania Music Hall of Fame. Accepting this honor for him in his place was his sister, Kathy.
There were seven studio albums recorded and released by Dan Hartman, as well as the unreleased album, White Boy. Adding to this list are two compilation albums. In total, there are twenty-two singles to his credit and three of them become number one hits on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.
Top 10 Dan Hartman Songs
#10 – The Love You Take (featuring Denise Lopez)
Dan Hartman contributed a considerable amount of music that was featured in movies, soundtracks, and television. “The Love You Take” was a duet he performed with Denise Lopez for the 1988 motion picture, Scrooged. On the US Cash Box Top 100 Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number seventy-five. For Hartman, the style of this love song also served as a bit of a rebellious move against Hollywood as he felt their preference to choose rock songs to help sell the film in favor of good storylines and script-writing was out of place. It would be one of the last songs he agreed to contribute to a film soundtrack. It would be around this time he was diagnosed with HIV, which later elevated to AIDS, then to the brain tumor that would rob the world of one of its most gifted singer-songwriters of all time.
# 9 – Heaven in Your Arms
In 1981, “Heaven in Your Arms” was the first single released from Dan Hartman’s fourth studio album, It Hurts to Be in Love. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked at number eighty-six and served as his final song to become a hit until 1984. Up until now, Hartman was regarded as a disco-style musician, so when “Heaven in Your Arms” was released as a mainstream mid-tempo pop ballad, it ventured the artist into new territory as a recording artist. “Heaven in Your Arms’ was performed as a romantic autobiography that brought about a refreshing take of vulnerable honesty that had the listeners witness a side to Dan Hartman they hadn’t experienced before.
#8 – Heart of the Beat
Under the name, 3V, Dan Hartman collaborated with Charlie Midnight, “Heart of the Beat” was a single released from the 1984 soundtrack, Breakin’. The reason behind the fictional band name came about due to the fact nobody else wanted to do the song. This resulted in Midnight earning a record deal that would launch his career into stardom. The two men continued to work together again, off and on, often contributing music to a number of big-screen productions and their soundtracks. Designed as a heavy synth-style heartbeat of its own, “Heart of the Beat” easily made the grade as a solid dance number that earned its place as a fan favorite.
#7 – Second Nature
“Second Nature” was the final globally-charted hit for Dan Hartman after it was released as a single in 1985. It came from the album, I Can Dream About You, as the fourth and final track to become a hit on the official music charts. It somewhat re-established his name on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart as it peaked at number forty but it was considerably more popular on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart at number nineteen. As a love song, Hartman’s performance made “Second Nature” an easy-listening favorite that also served as the man’s ability to produce different styles of music than strictly dance routines.
#6 – Waiting to See You
Despite MCA Records refusing to release Dan Hartman’s sixth studio album, White Boy, “Waiting to See You” managed to become a song featured in the 1986 motion picture, Ruthless People. It also found its way to the hit movie’s soundtrack. “Waiting to See You” is a true, classic rock gem that did not get the attention it deserved as MCA Records opted not to release a musical style to Dan Hartman that better defined the man as a multi-dimensional artist.
Heavy with a rock-solid beat, many critics are in agreement that “Waiting to See You” was the Ruthless People soundtrack savior as the only song on it that was entertaining enough to listen to. At least in the Netherlands, the music charts there recognized the single enough to see it chart as high as number thirty-three on its Dutch Top 40 chart and at number thirty-four on its Dutch Single Top 100.
#5 – Free Ride
Dan Hartman co-wrote “Free Ride,” which became the second-biggest hit for the Edgar Winter Group in their recording career. As a group, this single was released in 1973 and became a number fourteen hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. At the time, Dan Hartman was the lead vocalist of the group. “Free Ride” became one of the band’s signature songs, as well as Hartman’s, as there is no mistaking this fan-favorite has rightfully earned its place as one of the most iconic cult classics in rock and roll’s phenomenal history. Interestingly enough, the enhanced 45 version of this mega-hit wasn’t played nearly as often as the album version that has become the radio station and streaming favorite.
#4 – Relight My Fire (featuring Loleatta Holloway)
“Relight My Fire” became Dan Hartman’s second number one hit for six weeks on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart after it was released as a disco single in 1979. This version featured the vocal talent of Loleatta Holloway. Coming from the album with the same name, it established Hartman as more than a one-hit-wonder. Later, an instrumental version of “Relight My Fire” became the theme music behind Tomorrow, the popular talk show hosted by the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). There are a few versions of this song, including the 12″ that became a popular favorite among disco clubs as it used a four-minute floor filler titled “Vertigo.” This extended version is featured on the 1994 compilation album, Keep the Fire Burnin’.
#3 – We Are the Young
“We Are the Young” was Dan Hartman’s third number one hit single on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart in 1985, as well as a number twenty-five hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. Originally, this was supposed to be a single for the motion picture, Breakin’, as Hartman was contracted to do so. However, the producer of Hartman’s album liked the song so much that he arranged to have it released as its first single. “We Are the Young” was supposed to be a dance number for the movie but it was withdrawn in place of “Heart Of the Beat,” which was credited to 3V as Hartman did not want to be officially featured as the artist behind it. However, Ollie and Jerry’s “There’s No Stopping Us” took the place of “We Are the Young” as the movie’s dance number and it became a big hit for the duo. Some of the musical scores from that single were identical to Hartman’s “We Are the Young.”
#2 – Instant Replay
In 1978, “Instant Replay” became Dan Hartman’s first number one hit as a solo artist, at least on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number twenty-nine and was a number forty-four hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In the UK, “Instant Replay” charted as high as number eight while in Australia it peaked at number six. It was at least a top thirty hit among the nations of Belgium, Canada, France, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) certified “Instant Replay” as silver after the single reached the 200,000 copies sold mark. Starting off with a countdown, “Instant Replay” bursts into a fast-paced disco number that was deservedly played over and over again the moment the dance and disco clubs got their hands on this musical masterpiece.
#1 – I Can Dream About You
The popularity of “I Can Dream About You” not only became Dan Hartman’s biggest hit and signature song but one of the most played singles during the mid-1980s. It served as the title track from his fifth studio album and was featured in the Streets of Fire soundtrack. On the US Billboard Hot 100, the song reached number six when it was released for the first time in 1984 and was at least a top forty hit among several nations around the world. In the UK, “I Can Dream About You” peaked as high as number twelve. There were two music videos shot for this single. The one that received a considerable amount of air time on popular programs such as MTV was the one featuring Dan Hartman as a bartender. This was the official single version, which differed from the album version. The movie, Streets of Fire featured a fictional group performing the album version of “I Can Dream About You” although it was lyrically covered by Winston Ford.
Dan Hartman wrote the song after he was approached by Streets of Fire producer, Jimmy Iovine. “I Can Dream About You” was first released through the movie and its soundtrack. It was supposed to be a song engineered to appear as if a quartet of black male artists was performing it in a concert. This prompted Hartman to go back to his demo, “I Can Dream About You,” which saw itself become part of a legal issue so that the artist could rightfully earn the royalty rights of this hit song. Although this song was performed by Ford in the movie, Hartman had the right to perform it on the soundtrack. Lesser informed fans assumed “I Can Dream About You” was Hartman’s breakthrough single, failing to realize he already had two big hits as a solo artist previously.
Dan Haman standing in the center background – Feature Photo: Blue Sky Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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