A Taste of Honey
LA-based A Taste of Honey had only a brief recording career, but in that time landed two monster hits and set for themselves a permanent place in music history.
Fronted by bassist/singer Janice Marie Johnson and guitarist/singer Hazel Payne, the group also originally included keyboardist Perry Kibble and drummer and Donald Johnson. They came out of the box strongly in 1978 with "Boogie Oogie Oogie," an infectious disco song that shot to number one and became one of the most recognized songs of the era. It far outstripped the nearly simultaneous release of the same song by GQ, and became the foundation for Taste's self-titled album. It also won for A Taste of Honey a Grammy Award for Best New Artist of the year.
When the group's follow-up album, Another Taste, stiffed a year later, A Taste of Honey had the feel of a one hit wonder. But the reconstitution of the group as a duo consisting of Johnson and Payne and the surprise release of their English-language cover of Kyu Sakamoto's 60s ballad "Sukiyaki" yielded for them their second #1 song and the moderately successful album, Twice As Sweet.
The duo followed two years later with the less successful Ladies of the Eighties (the title cut was also recorded by Stevie Woods), before splitting up. Johnson continued to record as a solo artist, while Payne turned principally to acting. The duo reunited in 2004 for a PBS disco special, sounding and looking great after two decades apart.
Johnson has continued both as a backing musician (most recently on Felton Pilate's Nothing But Love Spoken Here) and as a frontliner, performing internationally as A Taste of Honey with guitarist Suzanne Thomas.
While their time on the charts was brief, the women from A Taste of Honey secured their place in history by putting a nail into the coffin of the traditional "men only" view of popular bands and opening doors for subsequent female groups ranging from Klymaxx to the Bangles. Plus, even 30+ years later, how can you resist a song like "Boogie Oogie Oogie"?
By Chris Rizik