This British pop ensemble was founded in London, 1963, by Denis "D'Ell" Dalziel (vocals, harmonica), Martin Murray (guitar), Alan Ward (guitar), and siblings John (bass) and Anne Margot 'Honey' Lantree (drums, vocals). One night in '63 the group, known then as The Sheratons, was playing in a London pub. In the audience were Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, a very prolific British songwriting team, who later wrote hits for such artists as Lulu, Elvis Presley, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich and Petula Clark. Howard and Blaikley liked what they saw and suggested the band might like to hear some of their material.
The Honeycombs were unique because they were the first group to have a girl drummer. Also they were produced by Meek and all Joe Meek productions are ultra collectable - he even has his own section in record stores. Have I the Right had one of Joe's innovative ideas on it - he recorded the group stomping on the staircase of his flat and used this to enhance the bass drum sound. (This trick was later used very successfully by Dave Clark Five who stomped on the stage during performances of their hit Glad All Over).
Soon after their first record had become a hit, The Honeycombs went on tour to the Far East and Australia, and they were not able to promote their new records at home. Follow up singles did not sell well. A disillusioned Murray left the band and Peter Pye took his place in '64.
The Honeycombs were in fact much more successful abroad than in the UK and had number ones in Sweden, Australia and Canada, the rest of Europe and as many as six number ones in Japan including Love In Tokyo. Their last number one was in Japan in the mid 60's with an instrumental version of Bond theme Goldfinger.
Although this was their biggest hit they did in fact have a number of follow up hits that aren't quite so well remembered. - songs like Is It Because, That's The Way and Something Better Beginning (the latter written by Ray Davis of The Kinks). Ray Davies liked the Honeycombs so much he wrote a song called Emptiness especially for them.
Far from being just one or two musicians from the original line up, the '64 band reformed in its entirety to do this track. Female drummer Honey Lantree, her brother John on bass, original vocalist Denis D'Ell and lead guitarist Peter Pye formed the line up for this one off project.
Although another record company got interested in possibly putting out a new album that deal fell through so the recording of Live And Let Die may well be their last legacy to the world music scene.
So it is ironic that some 30 years later they were tempted out of retirement by Future Legend Records to record the Bond theme Live and Let Die for the Cult Themes From The 70's Vol. 2 album. According to the band themselves it was the best recording of their careers (we think that's saying something when you consider what they've previously done!).
They said although producer Russell reminded them of Joe Meek a little because of some of the weird things he asked them to do musically, and it was one of their most enjoyable recording sessions ever. They also enjoyed doing a one off gig for the launch of Cult Themes from the 70's Vol. 2 at Madame Jo Jo's in London where they played to the youngest audience they had played to since their heyday.
Getting a number one in 1964 was probably one of the hardest years if you consider the dominance of The Beatles and The Stones, not to mention hundreds of other classics that came out that year, for example House of the Rising Sun (The Animals ), You Really Got Me (The Kinks), Do Wah Diddy (Manfred Mann), Baby Love (The Supremes), Needles and Pins (The Searchers) to name but a few. The Honeycombs managed it for two weeks in late August with Have I The Right? (also known as Come Right Back due to the catchy lyrical hook in the chorus).
The band had an upcoming audition with eccentric and brilliant indie producer/writer Joe Meek, who most notably had produced The Tornados and composed their number one hit "Telstar" in 1962. At the audition in Meek's studio in Holloway Road, the band played Howard and Blaikley's Have I the Right? which Meek recorded. They changed their name to The Honeycombs, this being a combination of Honey's nickname and Murray's profession as a hairdresser. Shortly afterwards they debuted to international acclaim.
To buy the album, please select The 70's Vol 2 CD from the drop down list below: