As the founder of the Honeycombs, Martin Murray enjoyed a career in the mid-'60s as an internationally charting musician. It was a seemingly improbable status for the owlish, bespectacled Murray, who looked more like an accountant than a guitarist and the leader of a chart-topping rock & roll band. Murray, born in London in 1941 (one source says 1939), managed a London hair salon during the early '60s. He was also a highly proficient guitarist, and he decided to put together a beat group in 1963, amid the burgeoning rock & roll and pop/rock boom spearheaded by the Beatles. His assistant, Anne Margot Lantree -- nicknamed Honey Lantree -- also played drums, very well, in fact, and she became part of the combo, with her brother John Lantree joining on bass and Alan Ward and Dennis D'Ell filling out the lead guitar and lead singer spots, respectively. They went on to international fame in the hands of producer Joe Meek, who gave them a sound that showcased Murray and Ward's guitars very prominently, making their playing some of the most easily audible on British pop singles of the period. When their debut record, "Have I the Right," hit number one in England, Germany, Australia, and Japan (and number four in the United States), months of frantic touring, recording, and television and film spots followed.
The group's self-titled debut album, issued in October of 1964, was also very widely heard, and included on it was the song "I Want to Be Free," which was a Murray tour de force on guitar. Alas, its release preceded by only a month Murray's exit from his own group. The months following "Have I the Right" had seen several follow-up attempts that didn't chart remotely as high, and in November of 1964 Murray pulled out of the band. He was replaced by Peter Pye, the guitarist he'd chosen to fill in for him during his convalescence from a broken leg earlier in the year. Murray organized a new group, the Lemmings, who recorded one single, "You Can't Blame Me for Trying" b/w "Bring Your Heart with You," released by Pye Records in 1965. It failed to chart and the Lemmings disbanded soon after. He subsequently issued a solo single, "I Know What I Want" b/w "Goodbye My Baby," on Pye that was similarly unsuccessful. Murray subsequently went into music production and licensing, and remained active on those ends of the business through the 1990s. In 2004, 41 years after he'd put his first group together, Murray re-formed the Honeycombs with a new lineup, and as of 2007 was still leading this version of the group on the revival circuit. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi