Howard and Blaikley

The story of The Honeycombs is inextricably linked with the story of two songwriters and a record producer. Quite possibly without the triumvirate of a great band a great producer and a great songwriter, there would never have been the phenomenal success of Have I The Right.

Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley were working for the BBC with ambitions to become successful songwriters when they walked into the Mildmay Tavern in Balls Pond Road one February evening in 1964. No doubt they had come to see the band which was attracting much attention for their girl drummer. They approached band leader Martin Murray offering their songs for the band to record. Martin was at first not interested and refused, saying that they had plenty of songs for the set and that he was also writing material, but they persisted and told him that they worked at the BBC and could get them on TV.
Persuaded to give their songs a listen Martin agreed and among the songs they had was "Have I The Right".

Martin had already been in touch with maverick producer Joe Meek and now felt that the band were good enough to audition for him. He managed to set up a session at 304 Holloway Road and with the new songs they had an irresistible offering.
There was a hiccup, when they arrived a few minutes late to find Joe in one of his moods. Apparently Howard and Blaikley were able to smooth the waters and the audition went ahead with great success. The rest as they say is history.

Howard and Blaikley became The Honeycombs principal songwriters as well as their managers, and were responsible for some of the band's finest songs.
Subtle moody slow burners like This Too Shall Pass Away, and Without You It Is Night, nestled alongside stomping crowd pleasers such as Have I The Right, and Colour Slide, on The Honeycombs eponymous first album. In fact they wrote nine out of the fourteen tracks on that album as well as the follow up single "Eyes".

In all they were responsible for eighteen of The Honeycombs original recordings. However after Martin Murray left, although they still managed The Honeycombs the band recorded fewer of their songs, probably because Denis D'Ell, the new de facto leader of the band, preferred a different style of music. The second album "All Systems - Go!" only features four Howard and Blaikley compositions. Meanwhile during this time they had been introduced to another band by Denis D'Ell. Dave Dee and the Bostons joined the H&B stable and became Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick, and Titch, and signed to Fontana. Many of the pair's compositions were now offered to the new band. The Honeycombs had first refusal on all their songs written into their contract.

DDDBM&T gave the pair their second UK number one in 1968 after The Honeycombs recording career was over. The Legend of Xanadu, with its distinctive whip crack sound also charted in numerous other countries although it fared poorly in the USA.
Overall DDDBM&T had considerably more top forty hits than The Honeycombs and cemented Howard and Blaikley's songwriting credentials considerably. Giving them the credibility to write for Elvis and a great number of other stars, as well as TV theme tunes and musicals.

The pair pursued other careers Ken Howard made films (you can read more about this here Alan Blaikley trained as a psychotherapist. Although it appears that they still collaborate.

I think it very probable that they would have found success with or without Joe Meek and The Honeycombs, but it is also true that some chances only come along once. We will of course never know for sure, but whatever, that meeting in the Mildmay was a pivotal moment for all of them.