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|Genres||Pop, baroque pop, soft rock, psychedelic pop, beat|
|Past members||Pete Dello
The best known line-up consisted of:
- Pete Dello (born Peter Blumsom, 1942, Oxford, Oxfordshire) — vocals, keyboards, guitar
- Ray Cane (born Raymond Byart, 1945, Hackney, East London) — vocals, bass, keyboards
- Colin Hare (born Colin Nicholas Nicol, 4 June 1946, Combe, near Bath, Somerset) — rhythm guitar, vocals
- Pete Kircher (born Peter Derek Kircher, 21 January 1945, Folkestone, Kent) — drums, vocals
- Jim Kelly (born James Kelly, 19 December 1946, Dundee, Scotland - died 26 December 1995, Dundee, Scotland) — lead guitar, vocals
- Lloyd Courtenay (born 20 December 1944, Wallasey, Cheshire) - drums (only recording for "Story" album)
Material was written mainly by the band's main resident composers, Dello and Cane, although Hare and Kircher also contributed songs. The group's supporters and critics, amongst them Kenny Everett, compared the band's sound to that of the Rubber Soul era of Beatles. Honeybus, however, never achieved the commercial success of many other artists of their time, only once in their history connecting with the public for a major hit with 1968's "I Can't Let Maggie Go", which was so popular that it earned the band a cover photo on the popular music magazine, Disc and Music Echo, for which they posed atop a red London bus.
Chances of future success were not helped when Dello resigned in August 1968. He had been willing to play live on radio and television appearances or a special concert showcase, but abhorred the live scene and the idea of touring America, which he had done earlier in the 1960s. Deprived of their key songwriter and performer, the band drafted in Jim Kelly to replace Dello on guitar and vocals, whilst Cane, whose talents and instincts were a close match for Dello's, took over most of the songwriting and a large share of the lead vocals.
This line-up scored a minor success with "She Sold Blackpool Rock" and a follow-up single to "Maggie", "Girl Of Independent Means", but the group never really recovered. Kircher was next to leave the band, in the summer of 1969, and went on tour with Engelbert Humperdinck. He was replaced by drummer Lloyd Courtney for the remainder of the sessions for their debut album, but Honeybus eventually disbanded late in 1969. The posthumous 1970 album Story, without an active band to promote it, failed to chart.
The Dello line-up of the band reunited in 1971 to record a new body of songs for the Bell Records label and a complete LP, Recital, for the British division of Warner Bros. Records. A change in management at Warner Brothers meant that Recital was never issued.
Their hit song, "I Can't Let Maggie Go" (who was also a top 10 hit in Italy, with a good Italian version made by the local group Equipe 84, entitled Un angelo blu - A blue angel -), enjoyed an unexpected reprise in popularity in the 1970s, when it was used as the soundtrack for a television advertisement for "Nimble", a bread produced for slimmers.
Since their heyday, Honeybus have found themselves pigeonholed as one-hit wonders.
- Eventually, everybody except Kircher and Hare gave up music as a profession.
- The Dello penned song "(Do I Figure) In Your Life", has been covered by Dave Berry, Joe Cocker, Ian Matthews, Dave Stewart (the keyboardist), Paul Carrack and Dana. Dello now owns several motor car showrooms across Britain.
- Kircher's drumming career saw him joining several bands, among them Compass with Billy Bremner, Roger Rettig and Brian Hodgson, Shanghai, John Scott Cree, Liverpool Express, Original Mirrors, and most notably Status Quo. He retired from the music industry after Quo's appearance at Live Aid.
- Kelly released a solo single in 1969 on Deram entitled "Mary Mary" b/w "Rev. Richard Bailey", both written by Cane, but it failed to chart. Kelly joined the Sleaz Band in the 1970s, and they released "All I Want Is You" on the Fontana label. An album was also recorded, but never released. He died on Boxing Day in 1995, after a long illness.
- Surviving members of Honeybus were briefly reunited for a Dutch television programme "Single Luck" in 2003.
Colin Hare and Honeybus
After a number of years out of the spotlight, Hare released new solo material in 2002. He now runs an official Honeybus website. In 2007 Hare played a few gigs with a completely new Honeybus line-up minus Dello.
A solo EP, "Down From Pitswood", featured two original and long-forgotten Honeybus songs, which the band had recorded for BBC Radio sessions in the late 1960s. More recently, he has been working on songs for a fourth album, that has been interrupted by personal problems.
- 1970 Story
- 1973 Recital (unreleased)
Posthumous compilation albums
- 1989 Honeybus At Their Best
- 1993 Old Masters, Hidden Treasures
- 1997 At Their Best
- 1999 The Honeybus Story
- 2002 She Flies Like A Bird : The Anthology (features previously unreleased songs such as "Big Ship")
- 1967 "Delighted To See You" (Dello) b/w "The Breaking Up Scene" (Cane) - Deram Records
- 1967 "(Do I Figure) In Your Life" (Dello) b/w "Throw My Love Away" (Cane) - Deram
- 1968 "I Can't Let Maggie Go" (Dello) b/w "Tender Are The Ashes" (Dello) - Deram
- 1968 "Girl Of Independent Means" (Cane) b/w "How Long" (Kircher-Cane-Hare) - Deram
- 1969 "She Sold Blackpool Rock" (Cane) b/w "Would You Believe" (Hare) - Deram
- 1969 "La Cicogna" (Italian version of "She Sold Blackpool Rock") b/w "Chi Sei Tu" (Italian version of "Ceilings No 2") - Decca
- 1972 "Story" (Cane) b/w "The Right To Choose" (Cane) - Deram (recorded in January 1970)
- 1972 "She Is The Female To My Soul" (Dello) b/w "For Where Have You Been" (Hare) - Bell Records
- 1973 "For You Baby" (Dello) b/w "Little Lovely One" (Dello) - WEA
- 1976 "I Can't Let Maggie Go" (Dello) b/w "Julie In My Heart" (Dello) - Decca Records reissue
- 1982 "I Can't Let Maggie Go" (Dello) / "Tender Are The Ashes" (Dello) - Further Decca reissue
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 258. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Biography by Bruce Eder". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 31 October 2009.
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 187. CN 5585.
- Mojo Collection 3rd. Edition - Story; Honeybus - Best albums of the 70s.