This past December 23, Honey Lantree, the drummer for the English beat/pop group the Honeycombs, passed away in Great Bardfield, Essex, England, from breast cancer. The musician, who is perhaps best known for playing on the Honeycombs’ 1964 hit, “Have I the Right?” was one of the very few female drummers to emerge from the British Invasion movement of the 1960s.
After forming the Honeycombs (originally known as the Sheratons) in 1963 with Martin Murray, her brother John Lantree, Denis D’Ell, and Alan Ward, Honey and the group would eventually land an audition with the legendary experimental pop producer Joe Meek. This relationship led to the band’s first single and biggest hit, “Have I the Right?” which reached number 1 in the U.K., Australia, Canada, and Sweden and peaked at number 5 on the U.S. charts. Within a year the single had sold around two million copies worldwide. Despite their initial success, the group would break up just three years later.
With the Honeycombs, Lantree became the first female drummer in a pop group to top British and international charts. In a video found on YouTube by searching “Interview with Honey Lantree 2014,” the drummer speaks about that impact. “Honestly, when I used to sit there in rehearsal, I didn’t think, Gosh, I’m doing this and I’m a girl. It was only when I went to play in a pub with the band that it sort of dawned on me, because everyone was looking at me. And that’s when I thought, This hasn’t been done before. There’d been girl bands…but they were big bands, not pop bands.”
Although Lantree retired from music after the Honeycombs originally broke up in 1967, she reunited with the four other original band members throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, touring until the passing of vocalist Denis D’Ell.
Who’s Playing What?
KoSA Cuba 2019
A week of culture, performances, and intensive drum and percussion instruction.
The eighteenth edition of KoSA Cuba—an annual weeklong drum and percussion camp in Havana—was held this past March 3–10. The camp’s cofounders, the drummer and educator Aldo Mazza and his wife, Dr. Jolán Kovács, say their goal with the camp was to spotlight the talent of Cuban musicians and dancers while providing insight into the country’s rich history and culture. The event was held in collaboration with the Fiesta del Tambor, a local rhythm and dance festival to which KoSA attendees enjoyed VIP access.
Participants hailed from the U.S., Canada, France, and Switzerland, and ranged in age from seventeen to seventy-eight years old. The program offered hands-on classes, workshops, concerts, and lectures, as well as nightly performances at the Fiesta del Tambor. Percussion instruments covered included congas, bongos, timbales, batás, drumset, and others as participants immersed themselves in Cuban rhythms. The renowned ethnomusicologist Dr. Olavo Alin also delivered seminars on Cuban music history. All instruments were provided, and participants studied and played along with top international artists such as Amadito Valdés (Buena Vista Social Club), Oliver Valdés (studio), Juan Carlos Rojas “El Peje” (Chucho Valdés), Tomás “El Panga” Ramos (studio), Adel González (Afro-Cuban All Stars), Jean Roberto San Cristobal Figueroa and Julio López Sánchez (Klimax), and Miquelon Rodriguez (educator).
Guest artists at the camp included Mark Guiliana (David Bowie, Mehliana) with his award-winning jazz trio, who wowed the audience and attendees with their experimental music. The American musician and film composer Joachim Horsley performed many tracks from his latest album, Via Havana, while accompanied by the Havana Symphony Orchestra and Mazza. And the Canadian percussion ensemble Répercussion, featuring Luc Langlois, Robert Lépine, Chantal Simard, and Mazza, performed a commissioned Canadian work with the Havana Symphony, marking the group’s first performance in Cuba.
A Sabian night during the Fiesta del Tambor showcased many of Cuba’s top Sabian and Gon Bops endorsers. Other memorable concerts featured well-known artists from Spain—which was the featured country of this year’s festival—such as Ketama, a flamenco/fusion group. The Fiesta del Tambor also holds a national drum and percussion competition every year that’s open to Cubans and international participants alike. The winners of the competition received much-needed professional instruments such as a drumset, timbales, bongos, congas, and various drum accessories.
The eighteenth edition of KoSA Cuba was sponsored by Sabian, Gon Bops, Ludwig, and Evans. For more information, visit kosamusic.com.