Members: Denis D’Ell (vocals, harmonica), Martin Murray (rhythm guitar), Allan Ward (lead guitar), John Lantree (bass), Anne “Honey” Lantree (drums, vocals)
“One-hit wonder”* is something of a pejorative term, often designating musicians who were talented but only managed to hit it big once. The Honeycombs only had one hit, but it’s a terrific song.
The group came out of London, founded by Martin Murray, who worked in a hair salon with Anne “Honey” Lantree. They brought in Honey’s brother John, and others and started playing in local pubs in February of 1964, just a Beatlemania was hitting the states. While performing, they attracted the attention of Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, who were just starting out their careers, who gave them “Have I the Right?”
As the “Sheratons,” they were signed by producer Joe Meek, who produced a bunch of UK hits in the era. The record company changed their name to “The Honeycombs,”* and the song was released.
The song went to #1 in the UK and #5 in the US.
The band was notable for being one of the few with a female drummer. Honey Lantree became something of a star, with articles being written about her, concentrating on the novelty of a woman in a rock band – and one who was a drummer. She rightly considered herself a pioneer, but the interest was, sadly, due to the novelty.***
Alas, they had trouble doing a followup. Their next few singles were minor successes in the UK and didn’t break in the US.
They did, however become popular in Japan. Most of the group broke up in 1966. Honey (who started doing vocals) and John Lantree recruited new members, but only released one single. Despite some popularity in Japan, the group faded away.
The result was one great song.
*For a series of looks at one-hit wonder acts, look for videos by ToddintheShadows on Youtube, which are always fascinating.
**A pun on Honey’s job has a hairdresser: Honey combs.
***Some sneered that Honey was not actually playing drums. From videos, though it does look like she’s handling things, and drumming is really hard to fake for a lip sync. Still, she was derided as a gimmick.