Who would have thought that a band that included a teenaged hairdresser’s helper — a young woman who only recently learned to play drums –would have a #1 hit at the height of the British Invasion?
That’s the story of the Honeycombs, who began their professional life as The Sheratons, featuring Honey Lantree on drums. Honey was the girlfriend and assistant of the band’s founder, guitarist Martin Murray, who managed a beauty shop in London’s West End. Honey’s brother, John Lantree played bass, Alan Ward played lead guitar and the lead singer was Dennis D’Ell.
Songwriter Alan Blaikley spotted the group playing in an East End pub and offered them one of his tunes called “Have I The Right?”. Independent producer Joe Meek liked the song — and the band — and recorded it in his home studio. Looking for a hard-driving rhythm, Meek put four microphones on Honey’s bass drum and had the band members stomping their feet on their stairs.
“Have I The Right?”, released on the Pye record label, languished on the charts for seven weeks before shooting up to #1 in Great Britain in the summer of 1964. A few months later the song reached #4 on the US Top 40 charts and became a hit in both Sweden and Japan. Subsequent releases failed to do well, however, and the band reorganized in 1966 as the New Honeycombs with Honey and brother John Lantree staying on. Producer Joe Meek took his own life in 1967 and the group broke up shortly afterward.
Where Are They Now?
Lead singer Dennis D’Ell recorded solo and revived the Honeycombs in various forms through the 1990s. He died of cancer in 2005. Founding member Martin Murray put together the New Honeycombs in 2011, and that group was performing in Britain through late 2014. Ann (Honey) Lantree is no longer in the music business. She’s now a grandmother who lives in Essex.
“Have I the Right,” 1964
* “Have I the Right?” (Howard/Blaikley) 1964
* “I Can’t Stop” 1964
* “That’s The Way” 1965
* “Something Better Beginning” 1965
* “I Can’t Get through To You” 1965
* “Who Is Sylvia” 1966