Bees Make Honey

Related: Bluesville, Alpine 7, Creatures, Wheels


Although the pub rock explosion is remembered as a distinctly British, and, more specifically, London-based phenomenon, more than a handful of its greatest practitioners actually hailed from considerably further afield. Bees Make Honey, one of the most fondly regarded of the genre's originators, was founded on the remains of one of Ireland's most popular showbands, The Alpine Seven and ground-breaking beat-group, Bluesville.

Barry Richardson, moved to London in the late '60s, performing with both the jazz act the Brian Lemon Trio and a country-rock group Jan & the Southerners. Fellow Alpine Seven members Deke O'Brien and Mick Molloy along with Ruan O'Lochlainn soon joined him in England and with the lineup completed by American-born drummer Bob Cee, the unnamed quintet settled into a residency alongside Eggs over Easy at the Tally Ho pub in North London.

They officially became Bees Make Honey in January 1972, the name was suggested by O'Lochlainn's wife, Jackie. Under the inventive aegis of manager Dave Robinson, whom they shared with both Brinsley Schwarz and, informally, Kilburn & the High Roads, the band graduated to other venues on the fast exploding pub rock circuit; Robinson also oversaw their first recordings, cut at Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire during 1972.

By 1973, Bees Make Honey was widely regarded as the most likely band on the entire scene to make the transition into the big time; they attracted enthusiastic press coverage across the media spectrum and, by summer, the group had signed with EMI. Their first single, "Knee Trembler," followed, but even as the band prepared their debut album, 'Music Every Night', the original quintet began to splinter. Both O'Lochlainn and Bob Cee quit, the latter heading off to Supertramp, appearing under his full name, Bob C Benburg. They were replaced by drummer Fran Byrne from The Creatures, former Wheels guitarist Rod Demick and keyboard player Malcolm Morley from 'Help Yourself'.

This lineup toured in support of the album, but was extremely short-lived. Within three months, Morley had quit to join Welsh rockers Man; even more damaging, however, was the spring 1974 departure of founders O'Brien and Molloy. Richardson recruited new members Willie Finlayson and Ed Dean (guitars) plus pianist Kevin McAlea - the latter pair had most recently been working together in a short-lived revival of legendary Irish rock band Skid Row.

In this form, Bees Make Honey cut a second album for EMI, only for the label to reject it and drop the group from the roster. A move to the DJM label proved similarly disastrous, with another album's worth of material cut and then shelved. By Autumn of 1974, Bees Make Honey had broken up, with Richardson going onto his own Barry Richardson Band. Demick and Finlayson subsequently resurfaced in Meal Ticket and Byrne moved onto Ace.

~ with thanks to Dave Thompson, All Music Guide

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