The Honeydrippers

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The Honeydrippers
Years active 1981 - 1985
Status Inactive
Origin London, England
Music genre(s) Rock, Rock 'n' roll
Members Robert Plant
Jimmy Page
Jeff Beck
Robbie Blunt
Brain Setzer
Andy Silvester
Wayne Terry
Jim Hickman
Kevin O'Neill
Ricky Cool
Keith Evans
Paul Shaffer
Nile Rodgers

The Honeydrippers were a rock band of the 1980s, fronted by former Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant. Plant formed the group in 1981 as a side project to allow him to indulge in his sincere love for vintage Rhythm and Blues. Though best known for the all-star aggregate that waxed the group's only recording in 1984, Plant actually formed the Honeydrippers in 1981, in Worcestershire. The group took its name from blues pianist Roosevelt Sykes' nickname.

The original line-up featured guitarists Robbie Blunt and Andy Sylvester, saxophonist Keith Evans, saxophonist/harmonica player Ricky Cool, bassist Jim Hickman, and drummer Kevin O'Neil. Keeping matters deliberately low key Plant took his band out on an English tour of pubs and clubs. They performed in a concert at Keele University in 1981. Former Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham's son Jason Bonham also took the drum stool for a local gig at Dudley JB's club. However, when Plant began collaborating with Blunt on original material, he deemed it more suited to his goals as a solo artist, and he accordingly formed a hard rock backing unit, putting the Honeydrippers on the back burner. After his second solo album, Plant revived the Honeydrippers, this time with an impressive roster of studio guests including fellow former Led Zeppelin alumnus Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck (a former Yardbirds member like Page), producer Nile Rodgers, keyboardist Paul Shaffer, with session bassist Wayne Pedziwiatr, and drummer Dave Weckl.

Together they recorded the five-song EP The Honeydrippers: Volume One, which was released on 12 November 1984 and featured Plant's takes on 50s and 60s R&B numbers. The first single, a cover of Phil Phillips' 'Sea of Love,' was a smash, peaking at number three on the American charts. The follow-up 'Rockin' at Midnight,' a Roy Brown jump blues tune, was also fairly successful, and hit the top 30, which was originally the B-side to 'Sea of Love'. With the EP's success, Plant stated that a full album would be recorded, but it never was. The band appeared on Saturday Night Live on 15 December 1984, performing 'Rockin' at Midnight' and 'Santa Claus is Back in Town'. The band featured the Stray Cat's Brian Setzer on guitar and Paul Shaffer on piano. The Honeydrippers performed again, albeit billed as the Skinnydippers, at a benefit concert in Monmouth on 18 January 1985, for blinded police officer Alan Williams, with a band comprising of Plant, Sylvester, Jezz Woodruffe, Ray Martinez and drummer Ritchie Hayward from Plant's solo band. After touring with the Honeydrippers in 1985, Plant decided to resume his solo career.

On 23 December 2006, Robert Plant performed a charity show at Kidderminster Town Hall under the title The Return of the Honeydrippers to raise money for his neighbour Jackie Jennings, who was undergoing treatment for a brain tumor and needed life-saving Proton Beam therapy in Boston.[1] After Plant's appearance at the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival to honour Ahmet Ertegun, the two discussed a new Honeydrippers album for 2007. After Ertegun's death, Plant has stated that this is now unlikely. In 2007 Robert Plant recreated The Honeydrippers, billed as 'An Evening of Rhythm and Blues' for a 15 February benefit show at Dudley JB's club, to celebrate Plant sound engineer Roy Williams' 60th birthday. Jeff Beck also made a surprise appearance for three songs.

Notes

  1. Robert Plant to play benefit gig for neighbour. NME News. NME (29 September 2006). Retrieved on 4 February 2007.