Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



UK new wave group formed '78 by expatriate Chrissie Hynde (b 7 Sep. '51, Akron OH), rhythm guitar, singer, songwriter. She attended Kent State, played with Akron band Sat. Sun. Mat., went to London, wrote for the New Musical Express; returned to USA to sing with R&B band Jack Rabbit, to France to sing with Frenchies, back to London. Rehearsed with Mick Jones, but he co-formed Clash; sang in Malcolm McLaren's Masters of the Backside, which later became the Damned; with Steve Strange in shortlived (fortunately) Moors Murderers (one single, lots of space in tabloids); he co- formed Visage. She signed with new Real label, met bassist Pete Farndon (b '53, Hereford; d 14 April '83), who introduced ex- Cheeks guitarist James Honeyman-Scott (b 4 Nov. '57, Hereford; d 16 June '82); with drummer Gerry Mackleduff they cut top 40 cover of old Ray Davies song 'Stop Your Sobbin'', her 'The Wait' on reverse. With ex-Cheeks drummer Martin Chambers (b 4 Sep. '51, Hereford) they made classic no. 1 LP Pretenders '80; by its release 'Kid' had gone top 40, 'Brass In Pocket' no. 1. The album showed Hynde's variety of pace, from full-tilt rock'n'roll with aggressive punk overtones ('Precious') to reggae ('Private Life') to ballads ('Lovers Of Today'); her soul rhythm guitar meshed well with Honeyman-Scott's lead, but after mini-album Extended Play the second LP Pretenders II '81 reflected a heavier stage act in which his almost metallic guitar drowned out her subtlety. An atypical cover, delicate Sandie Shaw soundalike treatment of Davies's 'I Go To Sleep', was no. 7, other hits: 'Talk Of The Town', 'Message Of Love'. Incessant touring and personal antipathies took their toll; Farndon was sacked mid-'82; two days later Honeyman-Scott died of drink/drugs; a few months later Farndon died. Hynde and Chambers recruited ex-Rockpile guitarist Billy Bremner and Big Country's bassist Tony Butler for jangling one-off 'Back On The Chain Gang' (top 20 '82), while Hynde was romantically involved with Davies. Learning To Crawl '84 used guest musicians, with ex-Night guitarist Robbie McIntosh, Foster Bros bassist Malcolm Foster making up permanent members; '2000 Miles' from it was a no. 15 UK hit, in the USA the album reached no. 5, their best showing. A schizophrenic band, much heavier live than the first LP suggested; like others, they found it hard to come up with ideas once on the album/tour/album treadmill and as sole singer/songwriter Hynde was under special pressure. In Jan. '83 she had Ray Davies's baby; she took time off '85 to have another, by her then-husband Jim Kerr (Simple Minds). She sang with UB40 on 'I Got You Babe' (no. 1 UK) '85, 'Breakfast In Bed' '88. The Singles '87 was a good compilation incl. 'I Got You Babe'. Packed '90 incl. 'Never Do That', virtually a solo album with Bremner in the backing. Other albums have been Get Close '84 (with 'Don't Get Me Wrong'), Last Of The Independents '94, The Isle Of View '95 (say it out loud) made with Damon Albarn, the Duke String Quartet and an audience in the studio. She is a typical rock chick, a hard-bitten romantic, opposed to fur coats but in favour of capital punishment for humans, agreeing with the sort of religious fundamentalists who would have stoned her to death for having a baby out of wedlock; nevertheless like a lot of crackpot artists she deals in her songs with difficult emotions that most of us hide from ourselves.