Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Have I The Right - The Honeycombs

The Honeycombs
(K. Howard, A. Blaikley) Astor AP 1069


Chart Entry: 12th September, 1964
Highest Position: #1
Points: 102,573
From the album "The Honeycombs".


The Beatles may have had Ringo, but The Honeycombs had Honey Lantree, a female drummer who also worked as a hairdresser, hence the name. In fact, her boss, Martin Murray founded the group, adding in Honey's brother and two friends to become The Sheratons before the name change.

The group came across songwriting duo Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley at one of their early shows. Impressed by the vocal talents of Dennis D'Ell, and their unique drummer, "Have I The Right" was offered as material needed to audition for Joe Meek, a pioneering record producer who came to prominence in 1962 with The Tornados "Telstar". The audition turned into a recording session with "Have I The Right" recorded then and there in his apartment - the same one he recorded "Telstar".

The Honeycombs didn't need any more attention given to their percussion section with Honey in the hot seat, but "Have I The Right" was one of the first hit singles to feature hand clapping and foot stomping in its recording. Joe's apartment stairwell officially became an instrument, The Honeycombs stomping recorded into microphones fixed to the stair rail. Further enhancement came from a tambourine hit directly onto the microphone. Unfortunately for Dennis, the final mix was sped up slightly, making it impossible for him to reproduce the sound live.

"Have I The Right" achieved #1 success in the UK, Australia and Sweden, while transatlantic success saw the single hit the US Top 5 and top the Canadian charts, the single selling over two million copies within a year of its release. Given that success, "Have I The Right" was initially a hard sell, Joe Meek peddling the song from record company to record company, eventually finding a backer in Louis Benjamin, the future chairman of Pye records. It was Louis who rechristened the group The Honeycombs.

Those pesky Beatles gobbled up most of the chart success during 1964, featuring no less than eight singles in the end of year top ten. Without The Beatles, The Honeycombs would have held the second biggest single of the year, however, their long term success could not match Beatlemania, the group finding it hard to follow up their success, despite further singles written by Howard and Blaikley, now the groups' managers. "Is It Because" (1964, #67) and "I Can't Stop" (1965, #43) was all that remained for The Honeycombs' Australian chart action before they disbanded in 1967.


Chart Run: (24 weeks in Top 100)
(Kent Top 20)

1 comment:

  1. Hi good article.
    Worth mentioning that after the MKIII line up split in 1967, managers Howard and Blaikley recruited a whole new line up of the band. Though not widely recognised as an official line up they were legally The Honeycombs for ten years. Al James was the singer for ten years. He has since emigrated to Australia where he now performs a Neil Diamond tribute. Another member who now lives in Oz was drummer Pete Jermy who was in the line up for about a year in 1973