The Honeycombs

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The Honeycombs
OriginLondon, England
GenresBeat music, pop
Years active1963–1967 / 2004–present[1]
LabelsPye (UK)
Interphon, Warner (US)
Associated actsJoe Meek
Websitethehoneycombs.biz
Past membersDenis D'Ell (deceased)
Alan Ward
John Lantree
Honey Lantree
Peter Pye
Colin Boyd
Rod Butler
Eddie Spence
 
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The Honeycombs
OriginLondon, England
GenresBeat music, pop
Years active1963–1967 / 2004–present[1]
LabelsPye (UK)
Interphon, Warner (US)
Associated actsJoe Meek
Websitethehoneycombs.biz
Past membersDenis D'Ell (deceased)
Alan Ward
John Lantree
Honey Lantree
Peter Pye
Colin Boyd
Rod Butler
Eddie Spence

The Honeycombs were an English beat/pop group, founded in 1963 in North London. The group had one chart-topping hit, the million selling "Have I the Right?", in 1964.[2] After that song the interest in the group ebbed away, and they split up in late 1966. The group's most distinguishing mark was their female drummer, Honey Lantree.[3]

Personnel[edit]

The original group members were:

Career[edit]

The group started in November 1963 as an amateur band founded by Martin Murray.[1][2] Its members were Murray, a hairdresser, his salon assistant Honey Lantree,[6] her brother John and two friends.[1] Originally they called themselves the Sheratons.[7]

The group played dates in the West End of London, and at the Mildmay Tavern,[8] a North London pub.[2] Among those attending an appearance of the band in February 1964 were aspiring songwriters Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley.[1] Howard and Blaikley would become a prolific British songwriting team, writing songs recorded by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, the Herd, Lulu and even Elvis Presley, but in 1964 they had just started their career.[9] They got into conversation with the group, which appeared interested in a few songs the duo had just written.[1] The group had already arranged an audition with indie record producer Joe Meek.[1] The audition resulted in a recording of Howard and Blaikley's "Have I the Right?".[3] Meek himself provided the B-side, "Please Don't Pretend Again".

Meek used his apartment at 304 Holloway Road, Islington, as a recording studio. Three UK No. 1 hits were produced there: "Johnny Remember Me" by John Leyton, "Telstar" by The Tornados and "Have I the Right?".[3]

Conspicuous in "Have I the Right?" is the prominence of the drums, whose effect was enhanced by members of the group stamping their feet on the wooden stairs to the studio. Meek recorded the effect with five microphones he had fixed to the banisters with bicycle clips.[1] For the finishing touch someone beat a tambourine directly onto a microphone. The recording was also somewhat speeded up.[10]

"Have I the Right?" was released in June 1964 on the Pye record label. Louis Benjamin (1922–1994), Pye’s later chairman,[11] rechristened the group The Honeycombs, a pun on the drummer’s name and her job as a hairdresser's assistant.[12] The sales started slowly, but by the end of July the record started to climb in the UK Singles Chart.[1] At the end of August the record reached No. 1.[13] "Have I the Right?" was also a big success outside the UK, hitting No. 1 in Australia and Canada,[14] No. 5 in the US [15] and No. 2 in the Netherlands.[16] Overall sales of the record reached a million.[2] The Honeycombs also recorded a German version of the song: "Hab ich das Recht?" Both the English and the German versions reached No 21 in the German charts: the English one in October, the German one in November 1964.[17]

From then on Howard and Blaikley acted as the group's managers and also wrote their next singles, "Is It Because" and "Eyes". These records did not sell well. This also applied to their fourth single, "Something Better Beginning", written by Ray Davies from the Kinks.

Soon after their first record had become a hit, the Honeycombs went on tour to the Far East and Australia, and were not able to promote their new records at home.[6] The tour gained them a long-lasting popularity in Japan, however.[1] Especially for the Japanese market the group produced a live album and a single, "Love in Tokyo".[1] The group also made a lasting impression in Sweden, where they scored two No. 1 singles.[18]

In July 1965, British music magazine NME reported that it had been agreed in the London High Court that "Have I The Right?" was the work of Howard and Blaikley. Composer Geoff Goddard agreed to drop allegations that he, not they, had written the song.[19]

In August 1965 the group released, "That's the Way", with Honey Lantree sharing vocals with D'Ell (when on tour, Viv Prince of the Pretty Things took over the drumming).[20] This record became their fourth British hit and reached No. 12. Its successor, "This Year Next Year", again with Lantree and D'Ell sharing vocals, did not reach the UK chart.

D'Ell sang on all but the last single the group recorded. "Who Is Sylvia?" was an adaptation of Franz Schubert's song “An Sylvia”.[21] "It's So Hard" was also recorded by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich as "Hard to Love You".

In April 1966 Denis D'Ell, Alan Ward and Peter Pye left the group.[22] The last single "That Loving Feeling" (September 1966) was written and sung by the new singer Colin Boyd.

The Honeycombs made many appearances on music television shows such as Top of the Pops, Ready Steady Go! (UK), Shindig! (US), and Beat-Club (Germany).[23] The group also appeared in the 1965 film Pop Gear, miming "Have I the Right?" and "Eyes".[24]

The (new) Honeycombs and afterwards[edit]

The group went on, with new lead singer, guitarist and keyboardist (This line-up released the last single "That Loving Feeling"):

In 1967, the Honeycombs broke up.[1]

In the 1990s founding member Martin Murray toured the cabaret circuit with a group called 'Martin Murray's Honeycombs'.[1] Another line-up including Honey Lantree, Peter Pye and Denis D'Ell also successfully toured from 1991 onwards.[1] John Lantree later rejoined this line-up. In 1999 record producer Russell C. Brennan asked D'Ell, Honey and John Lantree and Pye to record "Live and Let Die", on the Future Legend Records compilation, Cult Themes from the '70s Vol. 2. This compilation also featured Glenda Collins, another Joe Meek artist. At present there are two groups calling themselves the Honeycombs, one led by founder member Martin Murray, the other by later member Tony Harte.

In 2011 a band led by Paul Bonner appeared calling themselves the New Honeycombs after working with Martin Murray as the Honeycombs for over a year. Subsequently the legal rights to the name the New Honeycombs were secured and they are still working today.

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

UK[edit]

[13][25]

US[edit]

Albums[edit]

In Germany all three Honeycombs albums have been reissued on compact disc, two with bonus tracks:

Compilation albums[edit]

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Biography by Richie Unterberger & Bruce Eder". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 14 November 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 176–177. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  3. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2001). British Hit Singles (14th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 36. ISBN 0-85156-156-X. 
  4. ^ The Independent obituary of Denis D'Ell - accessed June 2011
  5. ^ Thedeadrockstarsclub.com - accessed November 2009
  6. ^ a b Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. pp. 83–84. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  7. ^ See the Honeycombs fan site; other sources, like May & Phillips, call them The Sherabons.
  8. ^ The pub, once located at 130 Balls Pond Road, Islington, was closed in 2000. The address is now a supermarket.
  9. ^ Some facts about Howard and Blaikley's career
  10. ^ About Joe Meek and his hits
  11. ^ Louis Benjamin’s obituary.
  12. ^ New Musical Express, "Lifelines of the Chart Toppers: The Honeycombs", 28 August 1964, p. 9.
  13. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 258. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  14. ^ Survey of 1964 hits
  15. ^ a b "Allmusic ((( The Honeycombs > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". 
  16. ^ Survey of 1964 hits in the Netherlands (archived)
  17. ^ About the German versions of Joe Meek’s productions, a.o. "Hab ich das Recht?"
  18. ^ Swedishcharts.com - accessed November 2009
  19. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 148. CN 5585. 
  20. ^ Answers.com on Honey Lantree
  21. ^ But Schubert's text is a translation from Shakespeare, while the Honeycombs’ text is by Howard and Blaikley.
  22. ^ See NME article cited on fan site
  23. ^ IMDb.com - accessed November 2009
  24. ^ IMDb.com / full credits - accessed November 2009
  25. ^ http://www.45cat.com/artist/the-honeycombs list of the Honeycombs single releases
  26. ^ "Allmusic ((( The Honeycombs > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". 
  27. ^ a b c d e f This version is different from the US single.
  28. ^ a b c This song was written by Ray Davies, but never recorded by the Kinks.
  29. ^ This is a reissue on one CD of the two Honeycombs albums, but on the back cover of the CD the contents of the two albums have been reversed. Moreover, the debut album, simply called The Honeycombs, has been rechristened It's the Honeycombs here.

External links[edit]