John Rooney formed Coronet Blue as a vehicle for his and Tom Watson – his long time song writing partner – song writing talents. Rooney and Watson had previously been in The Lonely Hearts, an exciting and fiercely talented power pop band based in Sydney, Australia.
The Coronet Blue, self- titled debut album in 1999 was produced by both Mitch Easter and Rooney. Rooney contacted Easter (famous for early REM production and his own band Let’s Active) on the recommendation of his good friend Darryl Mather (founding member of The Lime Spiders, The Someloves and later, The Orange Humble Band). This debut album was full of power pop gems, bright and powerful in part, in the vein of The Raspberries or Badfinger but with a dark thread of melancholy, like The Doors. Others might say that it was reminiscent of the sweet mournfulness of The Zombies and the latter Argent. Rooney sang all the lead vocals with Easter on guitar and invited former Lonely Heart, Anthony Bautovich to sing harmonies.
It was met with both excellent and encouraging reviews and was the first release for Laughing Outlaw Records. It was followed up a couple of years later with 5 bonus tracks, amounting to 17 songs in total, encompassing the entire debut recording sessions. These bonus tracks were equally well received.
It was a few years before we heard any new music from Cornet Blue. Why? Well Rooney had other plans, after all, he is not like any other musician, he is somewhat different. He decided to complete his medical studies and become an orthopaedic surgeon.
During the end of that sojourn he was working in Toronto Canada and inspired by the local music scene he began planning Coronet Blue’s second album, ‘Welcome To The Arms Of Forever’.
For ‘Welcome To The Arms Of Forever’ He recruited British rock royalty with the likes of; Simon Kirke on drums (Free and Bad Co.) along with Ian McLagan on keyboards (Small Faces, The Faces and others). He added to the ‘American Southern Pop Mafia’; including Easter once again, with his REM production colleague Don Dixon on bass and Jamie Hoover from The Spongetones this time on backing vocals. The songs for the second album were again written by Rooney and Watson and on occasion with Rooney’s good friend Kenny Miller (formerly of The Motivators). The album demonstrated increasing maturity and refinement in both song writing and arrangements and the reviews, once again, were favourable indeed!
Rooney then had a break for a couple of years to focus on his surgical career and to write songs in preparation for the third album. These songs eventually found their way to the highly acclaimed producer Kevin “The Caveman” Shirley, who obviously liked what he had heard and the seeds for a third album were sown. The “Caveman” selected an “A “team of musicians for the project some of who played with artists like; Joe Bonamassa and John Hiatt. These included Michael Rhodes on bass, Arlan Schierbaum on keyboards with Anton Fig and Herman Matthews sharing the drumming.
By a strange twist of fate Mitch Easter was unavailable to play guitar for the session. But Shirley didn’t disappoint, he brought in the legendary guitarists Blondie Chaplin (The Flames, Beach Boys & The Rolling Stones) and Pat Thrall (Meatloaf).
The result of all this is the new Coronet Blue album called “Better Day”, it is their finest to date and Shirley’s production allows a certain ambience to prevail allowing the songs to really shine out.