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. 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.
One night the group, known then as The Sheratons, was playing in a London pub, The Mildmay Tavern in the Balls Pond Road. 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, then working in production for BBC Television, liked what they saw and suggested the band might like to hear some of their material. The band had an upcoming audition with indie record producer Joe Meek, whom most notably had produced The Tornados, and composed their number one hit ("Telstar") in 1962, and were eager for some new material. At the audition in Meek's studio in Holloway Road, they played Howard and Blaikley's "Have I the Right?" which Meek recorded.
The group's founder Martin Murray had worked as a hairdresser, Honey Lantree being his assistant. They decided to combine his profession with the name of the drummer, and changed their name to The Honeycombs. They were signed to the Pye record label. After proving a 'sleeper' for seven weeks the record took off in the summer of 1964 reaching the number one spot around the world and selling over 2 million records. It was Meek's final hit in the United States, where it was issued on the Interphon label (a Vee Jay label). The Honeycombs were managed by Howard and Blaikley who went on to write more successes for them.
The Honeycombs' first recording "Have I The Right?" hit number one in the UK and number five in the U.S. in the autumn of 1964 shortly after the start of the British Invasion. They were especially successful in Sweden (four consecutive number ones) and in Japan (where they issued a live album entitled, In Tokyo). Honey Lantree was an accomplished drummer and the star attraction of the group as she was one of very few female drummers at the time. The unique and heavily compressed bass drum sound on "Have I The Right?", which many other drummers of the period tried to replicate, was augmented by the group stamping on the stairs of Meek's studio. Meek achieved this by placing four microphones attached with bicycle clips under the stairs. The Honeycombs also recorded the song in German.
They made many appearances on music television shows such as Top of the Pops, Ready Steady Go! (UK), Shindig! (U.S.), and Beat-Club (Germany). They also recorded their second album entitled All Systems - Go! in 1965. A dubbed performance appears in the 1965 British film Pop Gear (U.S. title Go Go Mania!).
The Honeycombs line-up changed in 1966 and the group became known as the New Honeycombs. The New Honeycombs were the original drummer and vocalist Honey Lantree plus bassist John Lantree and included in the new line-up were Rod Butler on lead guitar and vocals, Colin Boyd on vocals and guitar, and Eddie Spence on keyboards and vocals. Further singles were recorded at Joe Meek's studio and were released on the Pye label. The New Honeycombs went on to tour extensively in the UK and Europe.
In 1999 Cult Record producer Russell C. Writer tempted the oiginal line up of the Honeycombs out of retirement.(Denis D'ell, Honey Langtree, John Langtree & Peter Pye) To do a track 'Live and Let Die' on The Future legend compilation 'Cult Themes from the 70's Vol.2' The label was well known for starting the Cult Themes trend in the 90's and did a number of volumes from the 60's to the 80's featuring new versions of Cult Themes by up and coming artists. The formula changed with the 70's volumes to included previous hit acts (The first being the Lambrettras) Vol.2 however is much sought out because of the Joe Meek connection. Not only did The Honeycombs appear on the album but so did 'Glenda Collins' another popular Joe Meek artist. To further add to the Joe Meek connect RusselL. C. Writer, who produced all of the Cult Themes was often referred to as the new Joe Meek and even featured in the top 20 most innovative record producers along with Joe Meek (Who was naturally number one). This was last recording by the original Honeycombs line up before Denis died but Denis considered it one of his best recordings. More information and track listing of this album can be found at Future Legend Records Website.
In the 1990s founding member Martin Murray toured the cabaret circuit with a group called 'Martin Murray's Honeycombs'. Another line-up including Honey Lantree, Peter Pye and Denis D'Ell also successfully toured from 1991 onwards. 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.