Reunion for sixties band that went on to knock Beatles off top spot

An East Finchley man from a sixties rock band which had a host of number one hits has been emotionally reunited with a former band mate after 45 years.

Martin Murray, who lives in Elmhurst Crescent, was an original member of The Honeycombs - the first group to knock the Beatles off the number one chart position.

He was overwhelmed to once again meet former band mate Neville Bird, who he began his musical career with but fate later conspired to separate the friends.

“I think the love and the kindness was still there,” said Mr Murray.

The two grew up together in north east London and started making music in their teens.

By the time they were 15 they considered themselves semi-professional musicians, touring the tube and playing to screaming girls.

But Mr Bird’s family was re-homed by the council and the two lost touch, with Mr Murray being forced to find new members for the band they had christened The Black Rebels.

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The new inauguration, The Honeycombs, went on to global stardom with hits such as Have I The Right.

But the hectic lifestyle left Mr Murray no time to keep up with his old friends.

“I’m very upset that I didn’t keep in touch with Neville,” he said. “We lost touch because the band exploded overnight and I was whizzed off all over the world, losing contact with everyone who meant something to me.”

The former “skiffle” band members were reunited on Friday, October 14 after Mr Murray, who still works as a music producer, responded to an email from the search provider 192 offering to trace old friends.

“I was so pleased they found him because we had been so close back then,” he said. “We had a cuddle and it was very emotional.”

The two have promised to stay in touch and they have also started the search for the third original Black Rebels band member from the early sixties, Knobby Wilson.