Have I the Right?

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"Have I the Right"
Single by The Honeycombs
B-side "Please Don't Pretend Again" (Meek/Lawrence)
Released June 1964 (UK)
Format 7"
Recorded RGM Sound: 1964
Genre Pop
Length 2:57
Label Pye Records 7N15664 (UK)[1]
Interphon Records IN-7705 (USA)
Writer(s) Ken Howard, Alan Blaikley[1]
Producer(s) Joe Meek[1] (R.G.M. Sound)
The Honeycombs singles chronology
"Have I the Right?"
(1964)
"Is It Because"
(1964)

"Have I the Right" was début single and biggest hit of British band The Honeycombs. It was composed by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, who had made contact with The Honeycombs, a London-based group, then playing under the name of The Sheratons,[2] in the Mildmay Tavern in the Balls Pond Road in Islington, where they played a date. Howard and Blaikley were impressed by the group's lead vocalist, Dennis D'Ell, and the fact that they had a female drummer, Ann (‘Honey’) Lantree. The group were looking for material to play for an audition with record producer Joe Meek,[3] and they played the songs Howard and Blaikley had just given them. Meek decided to record one of them, "Have I the Right", there and then. Meek himself provided the B-side, "Please Don’t Pretend Again".[4]

Recording of the song[edit]

Meek used his apartment at 304 Holloway Road, Islington as a recording studio. Three UK #1 hits were produced there: "Johnny Remember Me" by John Leyton, "Telstar" by The Tornados and the last of them, "Have I the Right".[5]

Conspicuous in "Have I the Right" is the prominent part of the drums that carry the song. Their effect was enhanced by having the members of the group stamp their feet on the wooden stairs to the studio. Meek recorded the sound with five microphones he had fixed to the banisters with bicycle clips. For the finishing touch someone beat a tambourine directly onto a microphone. The recording was somewhat speeded up, reportedly to the Dennis D'Ell's grief, who regretted that he could not reproduce this sound on stage.[3]

Chart success[edit]

"Have I the Right" was presented by Meek to several major labels, who turned it down. It was released in June 1964 on the Pye record label (Pye 7N 15664). Louis Benjamin (1922–1994), Pye’s later chairman, rechristened the group The Honeycombs, a pun on the drummer’s name and her job as a hairdresser's assistant.[6] The single’s sales started slowly, but by the end of July the record started to climb in the UK Singles Chart. At the end of August the record reached No. 1.[1] Outside the UK "Have I the Right?" was a big success too. The song became #1 in Australia, Canada[7] and Sweden.[8] In the US the record reached #5[7] and in the Netherlands #2.[9] "Have I the Right?" sold worldwide about two million copies within a year.

Lawsuit[edit]

In July 1965, the British music magazine NME reported that it had been agreed in the London High Court that "Have I The Right" was the work of Howard and Blaikley. Composer Geoff Goddard agreed to drop allegations that he, and not they, had written the song.[10] Goddard had been Meek's principal song-writer, but the two had fallen out. He claimed that the song was adapted from his earlier song "Give Me The Chance", but was too shy to testify in court.[10]

German version[edit]

The Honeycombs also recorded a German version of the song: "Hab ich das Recht?" (Deutsche Vogue, DV 14210). Both the English and the German version reached #21 in the German charts: the English one in October, the German one in November 1964.[11] The German version was recorded without the group’s stamping their feet on the stairs and without speeding up. One line was left out, so the German version is shorter than the English one.

Cover versions[edit]

"Have I The Right" was covered by Petula Clark on her 1965 album, The International Hits. The song was also covered in 1977 by The Dead End Kids. Their version peaked at number six in the UK pop charts, and surprisingly topped the Irish pop charts for two weeks. The song was covered by the Dead Kennedys on the 1979 live album, Live At The Deaf Club. Other artists to cover the song include Les Fradkin, Casper & the Cookies, Vampire Weekend and Miki Lamarr.

Charts[edit]

Chart (1964) Peak
position
German Singles Chart 21
Irish Singles Chart 3
UK Singles Chart 1
US Billboard Hot 100 5

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. pp. 82–4. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  2. ^ Richie Unterberger. "The Honeycombs | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-04-05. 
  3. ^ a b "The JOE MEEK Page | Joe Meek: A portrait - 5. Hits and musicians". Joemeekpage.info. 2012-07-27. Retrieved 2014-04-05. 
  4. ^ "Please don’t pretend again" is credited to ‘Meek & Lawrence’. Lawrence was one of Meek’s aliases.
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2001). British Hit Singles (14th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 36. ISBN 0-85156-156-X. 
  6. ^ New Musical Express, "Lifelines of the Chart Toppers: The Honeycombs", August 28, 1964, p. 9.
  7. ^ a b "Songs from the Year 1964". Tsort.info. Retrieved 2014-04-05. 
  8. ^ Steffen Hung. "Forum - Swedish Number Ones 1962-75 (Allmänt)". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2014-04-05. 
  9. ^ "SIXTIES - 1964". Web.archive.org. 2012-07-29. Retrieved 2014-04-05. 
  10. ^ a b Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 148. CN 5585. 
  11. ^ "The JOE MEEK Page | Joe Meek records in Germany: 3. Recordings in German language". Joemeekpage.info. Retrieved 2014-04-05. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Do Wah Diddy Diddy" by Manfred Mann
UK number-one single
27 August 1964
Succeeded by
"You Really Got Me" by The Kinks