Bobby Goldsboro and producer Bob Montgomery had to make a deal to record the song in the first place. The composer of “Honey”, Bobby Russell, had produced a cut of it with former Kingston Trio member Bob Shane. Russell only allowed Goldsboro and Montgomery to record it with a strict agreement that it couldn’t be released without Russell’s approval, and until Shane’s record finished its run.
The session at which Goldsboro recorded “Honey” took place in Nashville. Montgomery later said in an interview:
“We cut it perfectly on the very first take. Everyone looked at each other as if to say ‘Is that it? Did we miss something?’ We all knew the first cut was perfect, but we did it again just to be sure and it came out just as good the second time, so we went with the second take”.
In a rare occurrence, all of the musicians stayed around long enough to hear the playback in the control room. Pianist Larry Butler, who years later would gain fame as Kenny Rogers’ producer recalled,
“all of us who played that night knew that “Honey” was going to be a huge record. In fact, most of us called our wives at home so we could play it for them over the phone”.
Bob Shane’s record, on the Decca label, was still in the release. Montgomery had to stick by his agreement to keep the Goldsboro version “in the can” until writer Bobby Russell gave the green light to issue it. According to Montgomery, the promotions man at Decca, Bob Holiday, who had been assigned to work Shane’s record, called him saying,
“If you call Russell right now, he’ll tell you to go ahead and issue Goldsboro’s recording because he’s mad at Decca over something”.
So Montgomery called him and sure enough, Russell angrily said: “I don’t give a **** what you do”.
Honey’s Amazing Chart Performance and Record 1n 1968
So “Honey,” this time by Bobby Goldsboro, was rush-released on the United Artists label. Within its first three weeks on the market, it sold a million copies, on its way to global sales of well over six million. It was the biggest-selling record worldwide for the entire year of 1968, in all fields of music. It was one of only three records that reached the number one position on both the country and pop charts during the entire decade of the 1960s. The other two were Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley PTA”, and Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John” in 1961.
As for Bobby Goldsboro, he had only one other Top Ten hit during the remaining years of his career: 1971’s “Watching Scotty Grow”, which made it to No. 7 on Billboard’s country chart, but he never again scored another Top Ten pop hit after “Honey”.