Honey Lantree of The Honeycombs: How Sweet It Was

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Honey Lantree_tomtommagazine_womandrummer

Here is an excerpt about Honey Lantree, one of Rock’s first female drummers, that we found on the internet!

“Anne Margot Lantree, better known as Honey Lantree, was notable as one of the few female drummers to come out of the British Invasion. Additionally, as a member — and eventually the featured member — of the Honeycombs, she was probably the best known woman drummer in rock & roll of the 1960s, at least in England. Lantree was not just a visual novelty; she actually could play well, and wasn’t a bad singer when called upon in that capacity. The fact that she looked great also helped the band’s fortunes immeasurably, and her visual attributes were no accident, either. She was working in a London hair salon managed by Martin Murray when the latter decided in 1963 to form a rock & roll group. She had played the drums and took to that spot in the band naturally, and her presence gave them a visual edge over almost all of the competition — with her then-fashionable beehive hairdo, she was an asset to any photo of the band and looked great behind the kit, and the fact that she could play completed the picture. The Honeycombs, as they were later christened — which only further enhanced the attention paid to Lantree — were signed up professionally coming out of the three-night-a-week gig at an East End pub, by songwriter/managers Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, and they hit the number one spot in early 1964 with “Have I the Right,” produced by the renowned Joe Meek. With an international hit to their credit, Lantree became the most well-known female drummer in the world from the tours, and the film and television appearances that followed. She also proved her worth as a singer by sharing the lead vocal spot on one of their follow-up hits, “That’s the Way”; their second album, All Systems Go, offered her singing a soulful pop ballad, “Something I Got to Tell You,” that only confirmed her talents in this area. No document of their live sound has emerged, but to have been heard amid the inevitable waves of screams that teenagers generated at concerts in those days, Lantree’s playing must have been immensely powerful. A little later in the group’s history, their managers decided to move Lantree into center stage, with Pretty Things alumnus Viv Prince taking over the drumming on tour. Her fortunes declined with those of the group, which lost most of its audience after 1965 as music moved on and popular styles changed, and ended up playing in cabaret during their final phase. Honey Lantree and the Honeycombs seemed quaintly archaic by 1967, when they split up following Meek’s suicide early that year.

The Honeycombs in Pop Gear

Lantree was, by some accounts, one of the inspirations for a young Karen Carpenter to take up the drums, but that was as far as her influence seemingly went. The only other female drummer that anyone remembers from this period, Maureen Tucker of the Velvet Underground, was far better known in underground circles during the late ’60s and 1970s, and Lantree wasn’t much more than a footnote in what music histories there were. But a revival of interest in the British Invasion in the early ’80s led to a rediscovery of the Honeycombs‘ music and to her discovery by a new generation of young listeners. Women drummers in all-female bands, such as the Runaways, are a separate matter, but at least one mixed-gender New York band of the early ’80s, the Tryfles, seemed to have been inspired by Lantree in their configuration. Their drummer was Ellen O’Neil, whose traditional good looks (balanced by the more stylized appeal of the one other female member of the quartet, guitarist Lesya Karpilov) helped dress up the visual presence of a band that was, by equal parts, otherwise inspired by the Byrds and the Shadows of Knight. Since then, and with the help of various CD reissues of the Honeycombs‘ work, Lantree has finally gotten her due as a trailblazer in music. She has not participated in work by the revived versions of the Honeycombs.” ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide.

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Read more about Honey from a fan here.

xo, Tom Tom Magazine & Hanna Fox.

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