Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Austria's Honey Twins: "Banjo Boy" (1960)

The Honey Twins were an Austrian pop duo who recorded for the European market in the late 1950s and early 1960s but had only one single that was released in the United States. 

The group consisted of Hedi Prien and Trixie Kühn. The duo's most successful single was a German-language version of the Coasters' "Charlie Brown," titled "Charly Brown."

The Honey Twins split in 1961, and Prien started recording as a solo singer under the name Andrea Horn that same year. She also sang in a folk duo with her husband, Wyn Hoop, until 1978, when they both retired from music.

In 1960, the Honey Twins recorded their only international single. It was an English-language version of "Banjo Boy," which was an international hit for the German duo Jan & Kjeld and was covered by numerous artists. (The Honey Twins also recorded a German-language version of "Banjo Boy" for Europe.) The B-side of the international single was another English-language song called "Send a Picture Post Card."

Decca Records released the single in the United States. As you can see from the X in the label scan below, "Banjo Boy" was the "plug side" that Decca promoted to radio stations. 

Billboard reviewed the single in its May 30, 1960, issue but misidentified the group as German. 

The Honey Twins' version of "Banjo Boy" received some airplay on KFXM in San Bernadino, California, but didn't chart. "Send Me a Picture Post Card" was played on WIBG in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and reached #98 on the station's weekly survey, so the Honey Twins can claim at least one regional hit—albeit a very minor one—in the United States, and it wasn't even the intended A-side.

The Honey Twins' German label, Polydor, promoted the single in England with an ad in NME, but the single didn't chart there. 

Apart from the Honey Twins, a few of the other artists who covered "Banjo Boy" at this time were George Formby for Pye, the Knightsbridge Chorale for Top Rank, Laurie London for Parlophone, Valerie Masters for Fontana, Art Mooney for MGM, the Raindrops for Oriole, and the Dick Wolf Orchestra for London. 

Billboard mentioned the Honey Twins a few times in its German and British "Newsnotes" columns in the early '60s, usually to report that the group had recorded a new German-language version of an American hit. During its existence, the group recorded versions of Neil Sedaka's "Oh, Carol," the Everly Brothers' "'Til I Kissed You" and "Cathy's Clown," the Teddy Bears' "To Know Him Is to Love Him," and Connie Francis' "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own" and "Many Tears Ago." 

Neither of the Honey Twins' two English-language recordings are currently on YouTube, but you can find both of them on the 2000 CD ...nur ein Küsschen ("Just a Kiss") from Germany's Bear Family Records, and I've included 30-second samples of both of them on this page.


  1. Hi Greg,
    I've a Onie Wheeler 45, with Plug Side written on what I assume to be side A.
    Is this likely to be a promo record?
    Any thoughts appreciated
    David C

    1. Hi David,

      It's almost certainly a radio station copy. The only reason to mark the plug side was to get DJs to play the correct side on the radio (or possibly to get reviewers to review the correct side, although records were rarely reviewed back then outside of trade journals for music industry professionals). Record labels usually wanted to avoid situations in which airplay was split between two sides of a record. When the airplay was split, neither side ranked as high on the popularity charts as it would have if only one side had been played. And a lower chart ranking meant less publicity and less airplay overall. Some labels avoided the problem by putting throwaway songs on the B-side that DJs were unlikely to play. For example, some of the Chipmunks singles had instrumental B-sides with titles like "Flip Side" and "Mediocre."