The Pretenders

The Pretenders

Synopsis of Pop Music

"I’m special, so special…
I gotta have some of your attention, give it to me.”

Chrissie Hynde isn’t the one you go to for a good rack of lamb recipe (because she’s an adamant vegetarian and animal rights activist). She’s the one you go to for honest, autobiographical lyrics, brave band leadership and the joy that is a Pretenders record (because she rocks).

Out of her home town Akron, Ohio, Chrissie’s first band was called Saturday Sunday Matinee, which included keyboardist Mark Mothersbaugh (he of Devo, years later). After a few years at Kent State, it was off to London for Hynde, where she worked stints as a rock journalist and boutique employee (at a racy little shop owned by Malcom McLaren, by the way), and hung around Sid Vicious and soon-to-be members of the Clash and the Damned.

In 1978, she assembled a band that included boyfriend Pete Farndon, drummer Martin Chambers and guitarist James Honeyman-Scott. Taking their name from the Platters hit “The Great Pretender,” they recorded a hit version of Ray Davies’ “Stop Your Sobbing.” After other singles “Kid” and “Brass in Pocket” did similarly well, the released their self-titled debut. Hynde's growl, accompanied by Honeyman-Scott’s elongated chords, effects and syncopated rhythms…it was punk and new wave and rock altogether, and it absolutely worked.

On a 1980 stateside tour, Hynde met her music idol Davies and the two fell in love. The Pretenders unleashed their second album to substantial success, though there was trouble for its members on personal fronts: Farndon was kicked out for drug abuse, and just two days after his ousting, Honeyman-Scott died of a heroin/cocaine overdose in London. Hynde holed up in seclusion and gave birth to her and Davies’ daughter in 1983, but tragedy tracked her down again—Farndon also overdosed and died that year.

Hynde re-emerged and went back to the studio with drummer Chambers, new guitarist Robbie McIntosh (from the Average White Band) and bassist Malcom Foster, and her tellingly-titled Learning to Crawl album was released in 1984. Its singles included “Middle of the Road” and “Back on the Chain Gang,” a tribute to the late Honeyman-Scott. Hynde had ended things with Davies, incidentally, and married Jim Kerr, the vocalist from Simple Minds.

Hynde dueted with UB40 on a reggae-flavored cover of Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” in 1985, and after giving birth to her second child (a daughter with Kerr), she put her band on hold. She divorced Kerr, raised her kids and campaigned for animal rights-related causes through the 90’s. Chambers came back to the Pretenders for 1994’s Last of the Independents, and its ballad single “I’ll Stand By You.” In 1995, a well-regarded acoustic album called Isle of View was released, featuring a handful of the band’s hits backed by the strings of the Duke Quartet.

Hynde married Columbian sculptor Lucho Brieva in 1997, and performed in 1999’s Lilith Fair tour. And once again, not that there was ever any doubt, she just rocked.

Artist Release History

1980 – The Pretenders
1981 – The Pretenders II
1981 – Extended Play
1984 – Learning to Crawl
1986 – Get Close
1987 – The Singles
1990 – Packed
1994 – Last of the Independents
1995 – The Isle of View
1999 – Viva El Amor!

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Essential Music Albums

The Singles (Sire)

Band Members

Chrissie Hynde vocals, guitar
Pete Farndon bass
James Honeyman-Scott guitar
Martin Chambers drums

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