Honey Cone was the first act signed to the Hot Wax label, which Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland (Holland-Dozier-Holland) formed after leaving Motown in 1969. The group was the trio of Shelly Clark, Carolyn Willis and Edna Wright. Wright was an accomplished singer, having done background work on various TV shows as well as tours with Bill Medley and Billy Preston, and singing backup for Motown, which is where she met Eddie Holland. Hot Wax wanted to sign Wright's sister, Darlene Love (Phil Spector is the one who suggested she change her name from Darlene Wright to Darlene Love), but she was busy with her group the Blossoms and passed on the offer. When Darlene got an offer to do an Andy Williams TV special, she turned it down but suggested Edna, who called her friend Carolyn Willis, who called her friend Shelly Clark, and they sang together for the first time at the gig.
They continued to perform together, and when Hot Wax signed them, they took a page from Motown's book and crafted an image for them. The attractive trio was christened Honey Cone and sent to charm school and to dance classes where they choreographed some routines. The girls returned to Detroit and released the singles "Girls It Ain't Easy" and "While You're Out Looking For Sugar" (both written by H-D-H, "Girls hit #68 and "Sugar went to #62, both in 1969) before hitting it big with "Want Ads," a song about a girl who is fed up with her lying, cheating man and is ready to advertise for a new one (and even willing to train). The song topped both the Hot 100 and the R&B charts.
This was written by the Hot Wax songwriting team of General Johnson (the Showmen, The Chairmen of the Board) and Greg Perry (Chairmen of the Board), who produced versions by Glass House, Scherrie Payne (who later joined the Supremes), and Frieda Payne (Scherrie's sister, who hit #1 with "Band of Gold") before deciding to try the song with Honey Cone. An engineer at the studio named Barney Perkins also got a songwriting credit.
It was Perkins who suggested a song about want ads, which were the way goods and services were solicited before the internet. A week later, Perry was sitting at the piano when the chorus line came to him: "Gonna put it in the want ads, I need some love for sale." Johnson suggested they tweak the lyric so the girl didn't sound like a prostitute, and they came up with the idea of looking for a new man to replace the defective one.
Johnson and Perry teamed up to write a follow-up hit for Honey Cone (this time with Angelo Bond as co-writer) called "Stick-Up," which made #11 on the Hot 100 and gave the group their second #1 R&B hit. Subsequent hits for the group were "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show (Part I)" (#15) and "The Day I Found Myself" (#23).
Sixteen years later in 1987, Taylor Dayne, who was nearly unknown at the time, recorded a cover version of this song for her debut album Tell It To My Heart. Dayne's cover wasn't released as a single, but the album was a big hit, selling over 2 million copies.
John from Nashville, TnAretha's "Respect" sure changed alot of things in terms of women taking stuff from their man. After that historical recording, women were getting bold by laying down the law. This song along with Jean Knight's "Mr. Big Stuff" carried on this new tradition.
Kristin from Bessemer, AlThe Honey Cone had a few more hits after "Want Ads" went to #1 - "Stick-Up", "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show", and "The Day I Found Myself" - they also recorded a unique version of the Miracles' "Ooo Baby Baby" which failed to chart-
Clarke from Pittsburgh, PaListen carefully to hear how the single version was pieced together, including a tacked-on intro with a splice before the vocals, and another splice at one point before the words "lipstick on his collar".