The Honeycombs had one big (and unforgettable) American hit, with 1964’s “Have I the Right,” which also topped the charts in the UK, where the band had a handful more. Their hold on history lay in the fact of having a female drummer in an otherwise all-male band–something history has not made a habit of repeating.
Anne “Honey” Lantree picked up the drums on the spot when she asked a local band using a rehearsal space in a building where she was taking guitar lessons if she could give their open kit a try. She was a natural, so much so that they hired her on the spot (she’d never played) and soon enough she had a nickname and was the only female drummer of the rock and roll era to have a hit band named after her (by the record company, where somebody at least knew a selling point when they saw one).
She was a fine singer as well, but it was her drumming that went places no man could go. Karen Carpenter was one of many young women who took up the drums when she saw Honey Lantree on television. There are more than a few who say the day the suits forced Karen from behind the drums was the day the Hellhounds started down her trail. But that wasn’t before a lot of other young women had seen her on television. History moves in mysterious ways. The road to Fanny, the Runaways, The Go-Go’s and the Bangles, fraught with peril as it was, would have been harder by a factor of a hundred without Honey Lantree.
Not just because she was a novelty, or played on a hit record, but because she played on this hit record and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Stomp knew no gender.
She succumbed to cancer on Dec. 23, at home in Essex.
The sound she sent out into the world? Well, it ain’t dead yet.