A Honey of A Group
The Honeys were Brian Wilson’s creative outlet away from his Beach Boys’ tasks – which were overwhelming at times – The group was formed after Brian convinced them to sing along with a tune while he visited the home of sisters Diane and Marilyn Rovell (later to become Marilyn Wilson).
Brian was able to get the sisters along with their cousin Ginger Blake, a short-term recording contract with his label – Capitol – Producer Nick Venet initially balked at the trio and wanted to proceed with only Ginger – but Brian prevailed.
Their debut effort “Surfin’ Down the Swanee River” – was a bit silly but featured Brian’s creative talents in top notch form. Put to the tune of “Old Folks at Home” Beach Boy fans identify it quickly as re-emerging in the fall of 1963 as “South Bay Surfer” included on the “Surfer Girl” long play.
Mid way through the song, Brian takes the co-lead along with Skip Taylor with girls moving over to background vocals and then moving back up to finish the lead. This one had “girl group” written all over it. Hand claps were supplemented by Gary Usher.
And Brian definitely was serious about the session with the Honeys, bringing in session giants David Gates, future Beach Boy Glen Campbell, Billy Strange, Leon Russell, Earl Palmer, Hal Blaine and more! Seems like this one couldn’t miss. But miss it did – falling short of entering the nation’s charts. Several of the Honey’s recordings dented the local charts – mostly in California – but as far away as Florida and Pennsylvania.
Capitol Records simply would not put any effort into promotion of the trio and the other Beach Boys were ecstatic about Brian working with them. So they simply moved on to Warner Bros. where their “He’s A Doll” had all the markings of a Phil Spector ‘wall of sound’ single – Brian had tinkered with the same approach on “The One You Can’t Have” and drove it home on “He’s A Doll”.
Capitol did release a small quantity of picture sleeves to record stores mostly and DJ’s to promote their first single – The sleeve now fetches big bucks.
As might be suspected, the Honeys were used on “Be True To Your School” doing the cheering background part – which was really brought to life more when the song was re-done for the single version. The Honeys also appeared live with the Beach Boys wearing high school cheer leader uniforms and armed with pom poms for live performances of the song.
The Honeys made several appearances in 1963 with the Beach Boys including: Santa Monica – July 13th, 1963 – Balboa Park San Diego October 13th, 1963 and the Hollywood Bowl October 19th, 1963
The girls were also brought into the studio to sing background on three Jan and Dean hits (included in the discography below).
The group released one single on MGM in 1965 as “Ginger and the Snaps”.
The Honeys went dormant in the late 1960’s then in 1970 formed “Spring” and were known outside of the U.S. as “American Spring”. – a duo with the Rovell Sisters.
Blake would move on to various ventures including a stint with a large gospel group called “The Brothers & Sisters” out of Los Angeles a group that included Merry Clayton for a time and R&B singer Billy Storm.
Ginger was a member of the female trio “Danielle” recording one album and releasing one single in 1980. In 2005 she recorded under the name of Sandra Glantz.
Marilyn and Brian wedded in 1964 and their two daughters, Carnie and Wendy would be members of the group “Wilson Phillips” – the group surpassing the Honeys in success placing four long plays on the Hot 200 charts.
The Honeys Discography
45 – Capitol 4952 – The Honeys – Shoot The Curl b/w Surfin’ Down The Swanee River – April, 1963
45 – Capitol 5034 – The Honeys – Pray For Surf b/w (Oly Oxen Free Free Free) Hide Go Seek – September, 1963
45 – Capitol 5069 – The Beach Boys (Honeys background) – Be True To Your School – October, 1963
45 – Capitol 5093 – The Honeys – The One You Can’t Have b/w From Jimmy With Tears – December, 1963
45 – Liberty 55672 – Jan & Dean with the Honeys on background vocals – Dead Man’s Curve b/w The New Girl In School – February, 1964
45 – Liberty 55704 – Jan & Dean with the Honeys on background vocals – The Little Old Lady (From Pasadena) – June, 1964
45 – Warner Bros. 5430 – The Honeys – He’s A Doll b/w The Love Of A Boy And Girl – May, 1964
45 – Dunhill 4003 – The Ginger-Snaps – The Sh-Down Down Song (You Better Leave Him Alone) b/w I’ve Got Faith In Him – June, 1965
45 – Capitol 2454 – The Honeys – Tonight You Belong To Me b/w Goodnight My Love – March, 1969
45 – United Artists 50848 – Spring – Now That Everything’s Been Said b/w Awake – November, 1971
45 – United Artists 50907 – Spring – Good Time b/w Sweet Mountain – May, 1972
LP – United Artists 5571 – Spring – Spring – July, 1972
45 – IX Chains 7002 – Spring – Look At Me Baby b/w Say What – 1974
LP – Casablanca 7210 – Danielle (with Ginger Blake) – 1980
45 – Casablanca 2276 – Danielle (with Ginger Blake) – Let’s Have A Party Tonight b/w The Day I Laid Eyes On You – 1980
LP – Rhino 851 – The Honeys – Ecstasy – 1983
– Rhino 018 – The Honeys – Running Away From Love b/w Go Away Boy – 1983
CD LP Box Set – Rhino – Girl Group Sounds – One Track by the Honeys “The One You Can’t Have” – 2005
45 – MSMusic 7-002 – The Honeys – California Feeling b/w Little Bird (By Carnie and Wendy Wilson) – 2011