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|Genres||Pop, baroque pop, soft rock, psychedelic pop, beat|
|Years active||April 1967–1973|
|Past members||Pete Dello|
Honeybus were a 1960s pop group formed in April 1967, in London. They are best known for their 1968 UK Top 10 hit single, "I Can't Let Maggie Go", written by Pete Dello who also composed their previous single "(Do I Figure) In Your Life", later recorded by Dave Berry, Ian Matthews, Joe Cocker, Dave Stewart, Paul Carrack, Samantha Jones, Dana and Pierce Turner.
The band's main composers were Dello and Ray Cane although other members contributed songs. The group's supporters and critics, amongst them Kenny Everett, compared the band to Rubber Soul-era Beatles.
Honeybus had 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. "I Can't Let Maggie Go" reached Number 8 in the UK Singles Chart, in April 1968, staying in the Top 40 for over two months.
Dello resigned in August 1968. The band recruited Jim Kelly on guitar and vocals to replace him and Cane began songwriting and performing lead vocals. This line-up scored minor successes with "She Sold Blackpool Rock" and "Girl Of Independent Means". Honeybus eventually disbanded late in 1969. Their 1970 album Story, without an active band to promote it, failed to chart. However, it is now highly collectable and sells for around £1,000 in perfect condition. It has since been re-issued on compact disc.
Dello, Hare and Kelly all went on to record solo material in the early 1970s that was critically acclaimed but failed to achieve significant commercial success.
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.
"I Can't Let Maggie Go", was also a top 10 hit in Italy, with a version made by Equipe 84, entitled "Un angelo blu" ("A blue angel"). It enjoyed an unexpected return in popularity in the 1970s, when it was used as the TV jingle commercial for "Nimble", a bread produced for slimmers.
Disbanding and aftermath
Kircher left the group 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. 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 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.
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. Surviving members of Honeybus were briefly reunited for a Dutch television programme "Single Luck" in 2003. 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.
The best known line-up consisted of:
- Pete Dello (born Peter Blumsom, 26 May 1942, Oxford, Oxfordshire) — vocals, keyboards, guitar
- Ray Cane (born Raymond John Byart, 15 September 1943, 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)
- Tim Fisher (born 28 October 1951, Birmingham, West Midlands) - bass (session bass player for tour)
- 1970 Story
- 1973 Recital (unreleased although promo copies exist and sell for over £800, reissued on the Hanky Panky label in July 2018)
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.
- Bruce Eder. "Honeybus | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-10-03.
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 187. CN 5585.
- "HONEYBUS-story 1970 UK DERAM LP ORIG, PSYCH LP MINT - auction details". Popsike.com. Retrieved 2016-01-16.
- "Nimble Bread - Classic Brands". Sites.google.com. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
- "Honeybus Recital LP 72 Promo only Psych Acid Folk Pop Warner K 46248 mint- RARE - auction details". Popsike.com. Retrieved 2016-01-16.
- Mojo Collection 3rd. Edition - Story; Honeybus - Best albums of the '70s.