Thursday, 11 July 2013

Honey Bane, There's a story in here somewhere

If you are aged between 45 and 50 there is a small, actually tiny chance that you might remember Honey Bane. The high point, at least in commercial terms was her single 'Turn me on turn me off' that made 37 in the charts in 1980 and earned her a Top of the Pops appearance. It stuck in my memory because when Peter Powell introduced her he told us she was 16, which to the 14 year old me was pretty impressive. I was not taken by the tune, a bit of sub X-Ray Spex new wave, and her star did not linger long.

I was not sorry the song did not progress, but was surprised a couple of years later seeing she had credits for backing vocals on the Angelic Upstarts album. Seemed an odd connection, though as the album was produced by Jimmy Pursey the reason may become clear.  But what pricked my interest recently was seeing that she had released a song on Crass Records, 'You can be You' a couple of years before her moment in the sun on TotP. Now whatever Crass were up to it wasn't trying to promote teeny pop. It nudged me look a bit further and what emerges is quite a story.

The 14 year old Donna Boylan forms a punk band in 1978, Fatal Microbes. Ok there were probably a few thousand similar bands at the time but this mob had sufficient wherewithal to release a joint single was anarcho punks Poison Girls. Now we are already someway off the beaten track for the average 14 year old. But things seemed to take a sharp turn for the worse when she spent time in a youth detention centre. It was following this that she linked up with Crass, and released the single under the awful name of 'Donna and the Kebabs' while allegedly on the run from Social Services. That she found some kind of refuge at Dial House in the company of people like Penny Rimbaud and Gee Vaucher is kind of amazing in itself. But stardom was yet to beckon, she followed her time with Crass with had another stint in youth detention.

After singing with Killing Joke  she was picked up by Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69 who became her manager. This led to a deal with EMI and the hit single as Honey Bane. 

Once safely dropped by her label an acting career followed. The highlight of this was, by a horrible irony, a major role in the film Scrubbers. Alongside the likes of Kathy Burke she was part of a story about life in girls Borstal.  I guess there must have been only so much acting involved.

From what Wikipedia has to share the acting career was not lasting and rather cryptically states that 'Bane spent the remainder of the 1980s as a pin-up model for erotic magazines.'

On one level  she seems to have been kicking out at a world, that to quote the Libertines 'kicked back an awful lot harder'. At the same time there must have been something pretty remarkable about this girl to have enjoyed that patronage of Crass, Poison Girls, Sham 69 and Killing Joke before her 17th birthday.