Meet Honey Lantree, the Trailblazing 1960s Female Drummer


“Quick, who’s your favorite female drummer? Hardly a strange question! (Yes, you are allowed to pick more than one favorite.) Things were decidedly different when drummer Honey Lantree, the only female member of the 60s British Invasion group the Honeycombs, took up the sticks. Drums were not her original instrument. Her boyfriend, employer, and eventual bandmate Martin Murray was giving her a guitar lesson when she asked if she could take a whirl at his kit. Lantree’s gender helped the Honeycombs secure press. She snagged a celebrity endorsement for Carlton drums and turned 21 with a cake festooned with marzipan bees, and, more importantly, a #1 single, ‘Have I the Right.’ Of course, her gender also ensured that most of the coverage would focus on her appearance, with scant, if any mention of her musical talent. Lantree was not the only member of the Honeycombs to find this galling. As lead singer Denis D’Ell told the Record Mirror in 1965: How can it be a gimmick just because we have a girl, Honey, on drums? Honey plays with us purely and simply because she is the right drummer for the job. If she wasn’t any good, she wouldn’t hold down the job. On tour, we don’t have any troubles by having a girl with us. We just operate as a group. Perhaps it is that the novelty has worn off – we hope that fans soon will forget all about this so-called gimmick. The following year, he quit, along with lead guitarist Alan Ward and Peter Pye, who had replaced Murray on rhythm guitar. Lantree and her brother, Honeycombs’ bassist John, soldiered on with new personnel until the 1967 death of producer Joe Meek. Still, for a brief period, the Honeycombs’ recordings, tours, television appearances, and yes, press coverage made Lantree the most famous female drummer in the world. Admittedly, the field was not particularly crowded. Just challenging in ways that outstripped the disproportionate focus on figures, boyfriends, and beauty tips. …”
Open Culture (Video)

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