R.I.P. A Taste of Honey guitarist Suzanne "Minnie" Thomas

We are sad to inform SoulTrackers of the death, at age 60, of Suzanne "Minnie" Thomas, guitarist of the latter day version of the dance duo, A Taste of Honey. Thomas (pictured at the right) joined group founder Janice Marie Johnson when Johnson recreated A Taste of Honey in 1996, more than a decade after splitting with co-founder Hazel Payne.

We are sad to inform SoulTrackers of the death, at age 60, of Suzanne "Minnie" Thomas, guitarist of the latter day version of the dance duo, A Taste of Honey. Thomas (pictured at the right) joined group founder Janice Marie Johnson when Johnson recreated A Taste of Honey in 1996, more than a decade after splitting with co-founder Hazel Payne.

Based in Los Angeles, 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 Johnson and guitarist/singer 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, before splitting up.  Payne turned principally to acting, while Johnson continued to record as a solo artist, before bringing in Thomas for the group's second act, which continued on and off for several years.

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. Suzanne Thomas will be best known as part of the team that continued that story well into the 21st Century.

By Chris Rizik

 
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