Dennis D'Ell

Singer of 'Have I the Right?'

The Sixties group the Honeycombs, with their lead singer Dennis D'Ell, is best known for "Have I the Right?", which went to No 1 in 1964. It was recorded by the maverick producer Joe Meek and was the first hit song to be written by the team of Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley.

D'Ell was born Dennis Dalziel, the son of a lorry driver, in Stepney, east London, in 1943 and trained as a signalman for British Railways. After winning a talent contest, he joined a local band, the Sheritons, which featured Martin Murray and Alan Ward on guitars, John Lantree on bass, and his sister Anne Lantree on drums. As Anne's nickname was "Honey" and she and Murray were hairdressers (that is, combers), they became the Honeycombs.

The BBC employees Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley recorded some demonstration records of their songs, including "Have I the Right?", with the Honeycombs. Joe Meek offered to record them but went into a tantrum when they arrived late to meet him due to London traffic. Howard and Blaikley won him round and "Have I the Right?" was recorded in three parts - the backing musicians, the vocals and then the stomping on the stairs. While they were jumping up and down, the cleaning lady called and told them to hurry up. Leased to Pye Records, "Have I the Right?" was promoted by the pirate station Radio Caroline and the publicity surrounding a group with a girl drummer was enormous.

The Honeycombs had further success with "Is It Because?" and made the album It's the Honeycombs (1964), but D'Ell was uncomfortable with Meek's speeded-up trickery and criticised him in an interview with New Musical Express. Meek then recorded the Ray Davies song "Something Better Beginning" at standard speed, admittedly with some distortion, but the record only nudged into the Top Forty. When Meek resorted to his regular activities, the Honeycombs had another Top Twenty hit, with "That's the Way", and made the album All Systems Go! The group floundered after Meek's suicide in 1967. They split up and did not reform until 1994.

D'Ell became a solo singer, usually of soul songs, and his "Better Use Your Head" (1967) became a 1970s favourite on the Northern Soul circuit.

Spencer Leigh

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor