The Story and Music of the R&B and Soul Group, The Honey Cone


Introduction to The Honey Cone

The Honey Cone was a late 60s to early 70s music era all-girl R&B group from Los Angeles, California consisting of original members: lead singer Edna Wright, Carolyn Willis and Shelley Clark. All three members had sung in other groups: Willis was a member of The Girlfriends, Clark previously a member of The Ikettes, and Wright once sang with the Cogics. The Honey Cone was the first act signed by the newly-established label Hot Wax Records in 1969. The label was established by the well-known songwriting and producing team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. They released their first single that year “While You’re Out Looking for Sugar?” which peaked at the Top 40 R&B chart and broke into the Hot 100. Their first major hit came with 1968’s “Girls, It Ain’t Easy,” giving them a Top 10 R&B hit. But their biggest hit ever in their career was “Want Ads” in 1971; it topped both R&B and Hot 100 charts. The Honey Cone also enjoyed further hits with “Stick Up” (a Top 20 pop hit and #1 R&B in 1971), “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show” and “The Day I Found Myself” both of which also became Top 20 pop hits. But their subsequent singles failed to chart, and that led to financial troubles suffered by their label Hot Wax. When the Honey Comb dissolved in 1973, so did Hot Wax and its another label Invictus. In 2014 the group reunited on the third sailing of the Soul Train Cruise, playing mostly to the oldies music-loving audience.

The Honey Cone’s beginning

The Honey Comb is one of the R&B/soul all-girl groups during the seventies. Formed in 1969 in Los Angeles, California, the female trio consisted of lead vocalist Edna Wright (sister of singer Darlene Love, formerly of the Blossoms who also worked with the Ronettes), Carolyn Willis, and Shelley Clark. Before the Honey Cone, all of them were once members of other vocal groups; Willis was a then-member of Girlfriends, Clark was a former singer of the Ikettes while Wright was once became a member of the gospel act The Cogics. In Love’s singing group The Blossoms, Wright and Willis became part-time members of it as well.

The Honey Cone on Hot Wax Records

The Honey Cone stayed with Hot Wax Records throughout their career. Hot Wax was just a newly established label in 1969 by former Motown songwriters and producers Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, aka Lamont-Dozier-Holland. Hot Wax signed the Honey Comb as its first artist. It started when Willis and Wright (still with The Blossoms), were spotted by Eddie Holland. He was also the one who came up with the name “Honey Cone” for that was his favorite flavor of ice cream.

Later in 1969, The Honey Cone released their first two singles for Hot Wax: “While You’re Out Looking for Sugar” and “Girls, It Ain’t Easy.” Both songs did moderately well on the R&B chart at #26 and #8 respectively. The following year, a couple of singles were issued as well (“Take Me with You” and “When Will It End”) but they only became minor chart hits.

The Honey Cone’s breakthrough hit “Want Ads” and other releases

In 1971, The Honey Cone finally gained popularity with their fifth single “Want Ads” that would become a smash hit. The song skyrocketed at #1 on both pop and R&B charts. In the spring of 1971, the million-selling record was awarded by the R.I.A.A. a gold disc designation. “Want Ads” was included in their third and fourth albums (Sweet Replies and Soulful Tapestry). After that, the hits never seemed to never stop coming: “Stick Up” (#11 pop, #1 R&B 1971), “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show” (#15 pop, #5 R&B 1971) and “The Day I Found Myself” (#23 pop, #8 R&B 1972). From 1972 to 1973, The Honey Cone continued to release subsequent singles but all of these made no significant impression on the pop chart. Finally, the Honey Cone ended their career; later the Hot Wax also folded due to bankruptcy.

Life after The Honey Cone

In mid-1970’s, Wright went solo and issued an album in 1976 called Oops! Here I Go Again. Willis worked with Seals and Crofts for the song “Get Closer” which became a big hit. Billed as Edna Wright and The Honey Cone, Wright toured and performed with Latari Martin and Melodye Perry in more recent years. In February 2014, The Honey Cone had their reunion on the third sailing of the Soul Train Cruise.

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