About the Lonely Hearts
Sydney based power pop band 1979-1994
The Lonely Hearts were one of Sydney’s popular power pop bands of the eighties. Originating in Sydney’s outer west in 1979 the band’s popularity was legendary. Their suburban army of fans sometimes hiring entire school buses just to get to gigs including Melbourne!
Originally a covers band playing ballsy renditions of songs like ‘Sorry’, ‘I Need to Know’, ‘Turn Up Your Radio’, ‘Shake Some Action’, ‘New Rose’ and of course their trademark ‘Spicks & Specks’ they soon developed a large repertoire of great catchy originals further increasing their credibility and popularity.
from the Lonely Hearts website
Image above – L to R – John Rooney, Philip Edwards, David Guest, Tom Watson & Michael Rooney
Originating from a satellite suburb of western Sydney called Green Valley, the band originally formed so that they could get into gigs for free. At the time most of the band was still at school so they could only play gigs on the weekend. With minimum solos and maximum energy the Lonely Hearts always had the crowd on their feet dancing. They were one of the best value live bands of the time often supporting major acts like Cold Chisel, the Angels, the Oils and Mentals to name a few. It wasn’t too long before they could hold their own as a headline act.
The original lineup consisted of the Rooney brothers John and Michael, Tom Watson, Steve Brabeck & Anthony Bautovich and at their first inner city gig they upstaged Midnight Oil at the Sydney Cove Tavern. This was the multiple encore type show that was soon to become the norm for the Lonely Hearts. They went on to take the inner city by storm attracting attention with their pink PA and army of followers who would often arrive just before they played and leave soon after.
They played as many gigs as they could without missing too much school and even put down some demos at Festival. Regular Records among others began to take interest along with numerous publishing offers but the band resisted urges to sign any deals and in late 1979 drummer Steve Brabeck resigned and Phil Edwards (ex Elm Tree, Jupiter) took his place.
The guys were always taking the mickey out of everyone, never took anything seriously and no effort was spent having a great time. Rehearsals could be almost unbearable as they told one rock writer that the band members consisted of Johnny & Mickey Heart, Tom & Bob Phantom and Phil Eruption and even rang one potential manager to drive out from the city in his Bentley to pick them up to take them to the Skippy milkbar in Liverpool for hot chocolate!
After breaking up in August 1981 three of the founding members John & Michael Rooney and Tom Watson, reformed with drummer Greg Ohlback (or as they called him Jimmy Olsen) (ex Reporters) & Guilio Mariani (ex QVs) in November 1981. Over 60 gigs, a tour of Melbourne and some demos at Clive Shakespeare’s studio and four months later in February 1982 Greg & Guilio had left. This wasn’t all bad as Phil Edwards had returned from England and was available to play drums. By March they were in EMI 301 studios which resulted in the double A side single Don’t Feel Safe/Last Kiss which as Jules Normington of Phantom records puts it is “one of the greatest 45s ever released in Australia”. The single rapidly sold the 1,000 copies which were pressed and in September 1982 Down Around the Corner which was also recorded at EMI 301 was released on the 2UW Homegrown album.
David Guest then joins the band on keys and guitar in early 1983. By March they were back in the studio this time at Alberts and in June the band released another self funded single Ambition backed with Tonight on the Waterfront label. Later in June 1983 Down Around the Corner was then released on a Waterfront Records promotional EP and given away at a gig at the Trade Union Club on the 25th of June 1983.
After several years of intense gigging, some demos at Atlantic studios and further self funded sessions at Alberts the band broke up again in February 1984.
In 1989 the band reformed with Dale Steedman replacing an unavailable Michael Rooney on bass and Anthony Bautovich rejoining on 2nd guitar. In 1990 they released The Spell backed with Last Chance on Regular Records and in 1992 the Lonely Hearts finally called it quits leaving behind numerous demo tapes and other recordings which to date have not been released.
Apart from a couple of appearances on the “Boys are Back in Town” tour in 1997 and some solo projects (Coronet Blue) and producing and recording other artists at their facilities at Suite Spot Studios, there have been some interest in releasing around 20 tracks of previously recorded material to mark the band’s 30th anniversary in 2009.
from the Lonely Hearts website
- John Rooney – Vocals Jan 1979 – Feb 1984, 1989 – 1992
- Michael Rooney – Bass, Vocals Jan 1979 – Feb 1984
- Tom Watson – Guitar, Vocals Jan 1979 – Jun 1980, Nov 1981 – Feb 1984, 1989 – 1992
- Steve Brabeck – Drums Jan 1979 – Oct 1979
- Phil Edwards – Drums Nov 1979 – Feb 1980, Mar 1982 – Feb 1984, 1991 – 1992
- Guilio Mariani – Guitar, Vocals Nov 1981 – Feb 1982
- Greg Ohlback – Drums Nov 1981 – Feb 1982
- Dave Guest – Keys, Guitar 1983 – 1984
- Dale Steedman – Bass 1989 – 1992
- Anthony Bautovich – Guitar Jan 1979 – Aug 1981, 1991 – 1992
- Last Kiss/Don’t Feel Safe – Single 1982
- Ambition/Tonight – Single 1983
- Down Around The Corner – 2UW Homegrown Album1983
- Down Around The Corner – Waterfront EP 1983
- The Spell/Last Chance – Single 1990
|23/06/79||Circular Quay||Metropole Tavern|
|+ The Clones|
|30/05/80||Bexley North||Bexley North Hotel|
|26/07/80||Bexley North||Bexley North Hotel|
|22/08/80||Bexley North||Bexley North Hotel|
|27/09/80||Bexley North||Bexley North Hotel|
|20/12/80||Bexley North||Bexley North Hotel|
|19/01/81||Bexley North||Bexley North Hotel|
|02/02/81||Bexley North||Bexley North Hotel|
|17/07/81||Sandringham, Vic||Sandringham Hotel|
|Address: 118 Beach Rd.|
|25/02/83||Cabramatta||Sweethearts – Stardust Hotel|
|+ Peak Hour|
|10/02/84||Cabramatta||Sweethearts – Stardust Hotel|