Dartanyan Brown

2011 - Individual Artist

Dartanyan Brown began his musical life playing Folk music while at North High School in Des Moines during the mid 1960’s. Eventually his primary instrument became bass guitar and he also became a very accomplished vocalist.

“Dart” first joined a band called “The Black and Blues Band” while he was a freshman at Drake University in 1967.


After a short time, Dart left that band and joined an up-and-coming group called “Wheatstraw”. In 1970, “Wheatstraw” left Iowa and toured in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin .

In 1972, when “Wheatstraw” disbanded, Dart joined three other great musicians, Rod Chaffee, Tommy Gordon, and Phil Aaberg (who eventually became a pianist for Elvin Bishop) to create the band called “The Mothership”. This association was the beginning of a connection and string of events that led Dart to the tremendous success that he has achieved, including time as a member of the world-renowned Jazz-Rock band “Chase”. “Chase”, started in 1970 by Bill Chase, a jazz trumpeter born in Boston in 1934, was a fusion of jazz and rock and roll.

While playing with Dartanyan in the band “The Mothership”, Tommy Gordon became acquainted with members of The Fabulous Flippers when they played at the 505 Club in Des Moines . In 1973 some of the former members of The Flippers ended up touring with “Chase”, and through his connection with The Flippers, Tommy himself went on to play with the band “Chase”.  In the spring of 1973, Dartanyan received a phone call directly from Bill Chase, saying that he needed a bass player who could sing. Tommy Gordon, Dart’s friend from “The Mothership”, had told Bill that Dart was as great musician, and Bill proceeded to add him to the band essentially sight unseen. Within two weeks Dart was on the road with “Chase” and making recordings with the group. He continued with Chase until a plane crash in August, 1974 near Jackson, MN ended the lives of Bill Chase and three other members of the band.

The group “Chase” recorded two albums while Dart was a member of the band, the final of which was completed in 1974, entitled “Pure Music.” Dartanyan was heavily involved in all aspects of that album, including his direct musical contributions, as well his assistance in the writing of many of the selections on the album. The band line-up on the “Pure Music” album consisted of: Bill Chase – trumpet, Jay Sollenberger - trumpet, Jim Oatts – trumpet, Wally Yahn – keyboards, John Emma – guitar & vocals, Dartanyan Brown – bass & vocals, Tommy Gordon – drums, and Jim Peterik – vocals.

After the tragic plane crash in 1974 that took the lives of Bill Chase and other members of the group, Dart returned to Drake University to finish up his schooling and received a degree in Journalism. He married and, with his wife, started a band called the “Midwest Express”; which was later renamed “Dartanyan”. In addition to Dart as an individual, “Dartanyan” the band became well known in the Des Moines area and opened for national acts such as Loggins and Messina and Grover Washington. Dart also worked for The Des Moines Register as a writer, reporter, and editor.

In 1988, Dart moved to the San Francisco area, where he lives today. He has been active as an audio artist, musical educator, sound designer, as well as a musician. Much of his current work is being done as a faculty member of the Marin Academy , a private college prep high school in San Rafael, California .

In 2003 Dart was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame. However, his influence on Rock and Roll in Central Iowa is indisputable and he is held in the highest regard by rock and roll musicians and supporters in Central Iowa and beyond. Dart takes his rightful place in the Iowa RockNRoll Music Association Hall of Fame in 2011.

The Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association Hall of Fame & Museum exists to preserve the legacy of rock and roll music in Iowa by honoring achievements, educating youth and inspiring artists. Established in 1997, we are a501(c)(3) non-profit statewide organization with many areas of service.

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