In all fairness to the 1960s group known as the Hondells, it’s probably a little misleading to call them “bogus”. In fact, they were a bunch of solid musicians who did manage to generate some good sounds that were very reminiscent of the Beach Boys — but the group wasn’t quite what it might have seemed to fans at that time.
In the early part of the decade, pop music was booming in a lot of different ways — not just in the type of music but also in its geography. The British Invasion was taking hold, and R&B was continuing to build on its strong roots in the East and South. In California, the rise of what became known as “surf” or “beach” music was becoming centered around a group with the deceptively simple name of the Beach Boys.
Brian Wilson, the resident genius of the Beach Boys, seemed to be writing so much good music that some was left over — or at least, it looked that way because he gave a song named “Little Honda” to record producer Gary Usher. Usher put together a group of local session musicians — including an outstanding young guitarist named Glenn Campbell — and they recorded the song, calling themselves the Hondells. In addition to Campbell, who was a much in demand musician in those days, the original studio group included Chuck Girard, Richie Podolor and Hal Blaine.
Although the Beach Boys would also record the song, the Hondells’ version of “
Little Honda” was a bigger hit, and helped build the group’s name. But as the song began its climb into the Top Ten on the charts, it soon became obvious that newly-won fans were going to expect a real group called the Hondells to show up in live shows.
For the next few years, the group had an ever-changing cast of characters taking on the musical chores in the studio and in concert. It’s a little unclear how often that included Glenn, but under the guidance of Usher (who was also a songwriter) they did manage to chart a couple of lesser hits before their popularity inevitably declined. By 1970 the Hondells had officially disbanded.
The Beach Boys lasted quite a bit longer.