This London-based group was formed in 1963 by Martin Murray, who'd worked as a hairdresser by day and played guitar in various skiffle and rock groups by night. Ann Lantree was a hairdressing colleague who played drums as a hobby. Murray persuaded her to join the band giving them the added novelty of a woman drummer. They weren't actually the first male band to use a woman drummer - this dubious honour belonged to The Ravens. Ann's brother John filled the bass slot after an earlier bassist had come and gone and Murray also recruited Nottingham-born Ward and vocalist D'ell (real name Denis Dalziel) on a friend's recommendation.
In their early days the band gigged around North London as The Sherabons but they soon opted for the catchier Honeycombs on account of Ann's nickname and their hair stylist background.
Their first big break came when they were spotted playing at the Mildmay Tavern in Islington by the Howard-Blaikley songwriting team. They took over the band's management, got them a record deal with Pye and the services of ace producer Joe Meek. The debut 45, Have I The Right?, a Howard-Blaikley composition with an infectious
Dave Clark-style beat topped the UK Charts and later rose to No 5 in the US becoming a million-seller. A classic of the genre it's the type of record that you can't stand still to and was later covered by the Back Street Kids in the eighties. It was one of Meek's final offerings before his tragic suicide and arguably one of his best.
After this strong debut disc the group suffered a major setback when Martin Murray fell during a ballroom gig and suffered broken bones in his leg and right hand. Peter Pye, a sixteen year old, stood in for a while, as the group embarked on a major UK tour and this was followed not long after by a lengthy Australasian tour, which in hindsight took them away from base for too long during a crucial period. Their other problem was finding a strong follow-up to Have I The Right?. The faster Latin-tinged Is It Because failed to get into the Top 30 and the follow-up, Eyes, failed to make the Top 50 at all, despite an appearance on the Christmas 1964 edition of 'Thank Your Lucky Stars' to help promote it. Things were not much better in the US, where their follow-up to Have I The Right?, I Can't Stop peaked at No 48 becoming their only other US hit. Their debut US album, Here Are The Honeycombs, climbed to No 147.
Meanwhile back at base Don't Love You No More was selected as their next 45 release and then withdrawn when they decided to record Ray Davies' Something Better Beginning. This ensured that Don't Love You No More became their rarest and most sought-after disc. Something Better Beginning lacked the immediate appeal of their debut disc and fell short of being the classic they required but it did feature a strong vocal performance from Denis D'ell. The result was another minor hit.
Their final UK hit was That's The Way, which featured Honey duetting with D'ell and had some of the immediacy of their first 45. It had originally appeared on their patchy debut album (now a minor collectable) and was aided by lots of airplay on pirate radio. It climbed to No 12 in the UK but didn't lead to any longer-term improvement in their fortunes.
Their second album, All Systems Go, attracted little attention here in the UK, but it did include their earlier US-only 45, I Can't Stop. Retrospectively it's of interest to some collectors because of the inclusion of an otherwise unreleased Ray Davies composition, Emptiness. Only Who Is Sylvia? of their later singles attracted any interest, but not even the considerable airplay it enjoyed could propel it into the Charts.
The band ended its days on the cabaret circuit and Denis D'ell attempted to launch a solo career in the seventies with little success. Still, Have I The Right?, which inevitably gets reissued from time to time remains a classic of the beat era.